Interim Rules For N.H.’s School Choice Program Approved
New Hampshire is one step closer to expanding a school choice program approved in this year’s state budget. The State Board of Education voted on Thursday to adopt interim rules for the state's new Education Savings Accounts program.
The program, officially called the “Education Freedom Account,” gives taxpayer dollars to families to pay for tuition at private schools, parochial schools, and other options. The program was included in the state budget after considerable criticism from public school advocates and Democratic lawmakers.
The new rules outline how the program will be administered by an outside scholarship organization. They require the organization to develop an application for families and for education service providers seeking to participate in the program, such as private schools, tutors or online education programs. And they set some minimum standards for those applications.
They also require the scholarship organization to develop a process for determining if families are misusing account funds intentionally.
The new rules could go into effect as early as late August, allowing families to apply for an account for the fall semester.
Under the rule’s timelines, the first installment of money will be available to students on September 1; those students will then be verified retroactively in October. After that, the scholarship will distribute funds on a quarterly basis to students who have been verified by the previous month.
The Children's Scholarship Fund New Hampshire is currently working with the New Hampshire Department of Education to become the outside scholarship organization for the education savings account program.
Once that contract is finalized, it will go to the governor and Executive Council for final approval.