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Charter School Advocates Push For More State Dollars

Sam Evans-Brown

Charter school advocates are hopeful this could be the year the legislature passes a bill aimed at increasing their funding.

Dozens of charter school students packed the halls of the New Hampshire State House, Wednesday, to push for a bill that would increase state funding for charters by more than $2 million dollars per year.

Currently, these alternative public schools make do with just a hair less than $5,500 dollars of state funding per student. They use fund-raising and donations from parents to fill in the gaps. New schools can receive federally funded start-up grants for a few years, as well.

Traditional public schools in the state spend an average of $14,000 dollars per student, which comes from local, state and federal sources.

Jacki Rice, a teacher at the Seacoast Charter School who came to the rally says her school has a new principal who comes from the public school world, and “he can’t believe the fact that to order pencils would require fundraising.”

The proposed bill would send an additional $1,036 dollars per student to charters, and would increase that funding every year at the rate of inflation. During the two-year budget cycle, it is estimated that it will cost the state $4.7 million dollars.

A similar bill was presented in last year’s legislative session that would have indexed state funding of charter schools at 50% of the cost of the average public school’s per-pupil spending. The House of Representatives rejected that bill by 9 votes.

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

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