Charter Schools

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: Feb. 28, 2020

Feb 27, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that a coronavirus that has already led to quarantines in other countries, has reached the U.S. and is expected to spread. State epidemologist Dr. Benjamin Chan gives us the latest updates. N.H. joins a multi-state investigation into the vaping company Juul Labs, and we talk with Sarah Gibson about the ongoing debate over charter school funding. 

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

Lawmakers, education advocates, and state officials are entering the third month of a high-profile battle over whether to accept a large federal grant to double the number of public charter schools in New Hampshire. 

Despite the grant’s likely demise, the debate surrounding it has reignited long-held tensions over charter schools, who they serve, and what they could mean for the future of public education in New Hampshire.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Lawmakers on the fiscal committee voted today against accepting a $10 million federal grant for charter school expansion.

This was the fourth vote in two months against the grant, which aims to double the number of charter schools in New Hampshire over the next five years.

Democrats say it would undermine traditional public schools and cost the state millions of dollars down the road.

NHPR Staff

A group of lawmakers has once again voted to reject a federal grant to expand charter schools in New Hampshire.

Democrats on the legislative fiscal committee voted against the $10 million dollars last month, citing concerns that opening more charter schools would cost the state down the road and harm existing conventional public schools.

Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut told reporters after the second failed vote today that he still wasn’t giving up on the grant.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

The legislative Fiscal Committee voted today to block a $10 million grant from the federal government for public charter schools.

The funds would have been the first installment of a $46-million grant to help the New Hampshire Department of Education double the number of charter schools in the state over the next five years.

NHPR Staff

 

A group of lawmakers is asking the New Hampshire Department of Education to respond to its concerns about a $46 million federal grant to expand public charter schools, before deciding whether to accept it.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

Lawmakers are holding up $10 million of a charter school grant from the federal government, citing concerns over how the grant will affect existing public schools and the state budget.

The money is part of $46-million grant made to the New Hampshire Department of Education, with the goal of doubling the number of charter schools in the state over the next five years.

Sara Ernst / NHPR

New Hampshire has just 29 charter schools, which is fewer than most states. Over the next five years, the state wants to nearly double the amount of charter schools with the help of new federal funding. 

In August, the New Hampshire Department of Education was awarded $46 million over five years to create 20 new charter schools, seven replications of “high-quality” charter schools and five expansions.

Courtesy of the Solo Group

 

Parents in Nashua are voicing concerns over a decision by the school district to bus students offsite for special education services.  

Districts in New Hampshire are required to oversee and pay for services for students with special education plans, known as IEP's, even when that student starts going to a public charter school.

The New Hampshire Department of Education is getting $46 million from the federal government to expand public charter schools over the next five years.

leafschoolnh.org

A new public charter school opens in Alstead on Tuesday.

The LEAF Charter School is a high school located in the Mole Hill Theater building. Its curriculum will focus on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, or STEAM.

The first charter schools opened in New Hampshire in 2004. LEAF is the state’s 25th charter school.


Allegra Boverman for NHPR

When Republicans took full control in Concord this year, they wasted no time outlining an ambitious policy agenda on a number of fronts, including education.

While Republicans were able to accomplish much of that agenda, they weren’t able to get everything they wanted. Here’s a rundown of some major developments in education policy so far this year.

Flickr

A Senate bill proposes allowing parents to use public education funds for alternative educational expenses, from private school tuition to computer equipment. A growing number of states have adopted such measures but not without plenty of debate.  We'll take a look at that discussion here, and around the country. 


School Choice in the Granite State

Jan 31, 2017
NHPR

At the local and national level, the movement to give families more options outside of their local district gains traction. In New Hampshire, several proposed bills would provide more funds and greater access to charter schools and other forms of education. But some worry these efforts will harm public school districts and rural counties.  


New Hampshire's Charter Schools: A Growing Choice

Oct 26, 2015
Jaddie Dodd / Flickr/CC

New Hampshire now has 25 of these alternative public schools, after a spate of rapid growth. We’ll look at some of the themes raised in NHPR’s recent series, A Growing Choice.  These include how charter schools are funded, who their students are, and what overall role they play in public education. 

Guests:

Michael Brindley for NHPR

Many charter schools rely on parent volunteers to fill gaps due to lack of funding, whether it’s filling in at the front desk or helping teachers in the classroom.

But at some charter schools, volunteering isn’t optional.

At Surry Village Charter School, families are required to spend 20 hours a year volunteering at the school. That’s according to the “parent participation” section of the school’s parent handbook.

Photo via Facebook

What is a charter school?

Here is the definition and breakdown as outlined on the New Hampshire Department of Education website:

“Charter schools are public and tuition-free schools. The focus of each public charter school is unique and based on the educational needs and interests of a particular community.

Michael Brindley for NHPR

  As charter schools continue to expand in New Hampshire, one thing is clear – how to deal with special education is a big sticking point.

Michael Brindley for NHPR

New Hampshire has lost out on a federal grant that would have helped create more charter schools in the state.

The state Department of Education had applied for a $5.4 million, five-year grant.

The state was told Monday it was not one of the eight states selected by the US Department of Education to receive new grants.

polariseducationalfoundation.org

New Hampshire is running out of federal money that helps new charter schools with start-up costs.

The state Department of Education has about $600,000 left in its federal start-up grant for new charter schools.

“That is about one charter school. Depending on the size of the school, it could be two,” says Caitlin Davis with the DOE.

Seacoast Charter School

An Arts and Music Charter School on the Seacoast that had faced closure is now likely to stay open.

The Seacoast Charter School has been trying to raise money to stay open since it learned its current lease from Sanborn Regional School District in Kingston wouldn’t be renewed.  The school needed to raise $125,000 by the end of May to lease a new space in Stratham. 

Seacoast Charter School Principal Peter Durso says the school met that goal through the efforts of teachers, parents, and some deep pocketed youngsters.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

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.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

This is the second of two stories about  New Hampshire’s Virtual Learning Academy Charter School, (VLACS) New Hampshire’s statewide online charter school. To read the first, click here.

Pauline Landrigan, an English teacher with VLACS, is touching base with one of her students, Siri Condike.

“Are you going to be together with family in a couple of days?” asks Landrigan.

“No actually I’m going to be working,” Condike responds.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Nearly every school in the state has students like Tristan Quismundo. He goes to high school in Londonderry and failed English his sophomore and junior years.

“I kind of just get distracted, and wander off think about other things, ‘cause I don’t really find English literature that interesting.”

But as of 2008, students like Quismundo have another option. Now he’s a senior, and instead of just making another go at the classroom, he signed up for VLACS, the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School.

Four New Charter Schools Set To Open In New Hampshire

Aug 25, 2014
Mountain Village Charter School

Most students across New Hampshire return to school this week, including students at Mountain Village Charter School in Plymouth. The school is one of the state’s four new charter schools opening this fall.

The actual building for Mountain Village Charter School is still under construction. So for the first week, the school’s 38 elementary students will be outside.

Teachers lead the students through a Swahili song and have them bark like dogs - mostly as a way to start the school year on a fun note.

alamosbasement / Flickr/CC

The original legislation to allow charters schools in New Hampshire passed way back in 1995, but it would take another ten years before the first of these publically funded independent learning facilities was opened.  Since then charter school have had their ups and downs in the state: many had a hard time getting off the ground, a few had to close their doors, some have been criticized for not being alternative enough from their public school counterparts. There was even a moratorium on new facilities for two years.

@BillDuncan / Twitter

  Gov. Maggie Hassan's nomination of longtime education activist Bill Duncan to the New Hampshire Board of Education is drawing fire from supporters of charter schools and an education tax credit law.

Senate Republican Leader Jeb Bradley says Monday that Duncan can't serve as an unbiased administrator of programs he spent years trying to dismantle. Duncan is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the business tax credit that gives scholarships to students who attend private and religious schools.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

The organizers of several charter schools opening this fall in New Hampshire say they’ve learned the hard way that finding a location is easier said than done.

House lawmakers have passed a proposal to boost state aid for New Hampshire’s charter schools.

House lawmakers are scheduled to take up a bill Wednesday to increase annual per pupil funding for New Hampshire’s nearly two dozen charter schools.

Pages