Charter Schools | New Hampshire Public Radio

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.

Sam Evans-Brown / Data: Department of Education

Today the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed a budget that doesn’t fund $2.5 million for new charter schools. If that policy stands it would be mean a de facto, two-year moratorium on charter schools. It’s a move that was met with surprise and confusion by charter school advocates. But to understand the decision takes knowing something about the long, political history of charter schools.

Redjar / Flickr Creative Commons

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has passed a bill that would end what has been called a moratorium on new charter schools. The bill still has a way to go before it is law, but charters in the pipeline could still open in time for next school year.

In her State of the State Address, Governor Hassan proposed to restore some funding to these alternative public schools, but under certain conditions, including more of a focus on traditionally underserved students.  Now educators both within and outside charter schools are looking at what this means…we’ll find out more, and if  lawmakers in the House and State Senate agree with the Governor.

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New Charter schools hoping to open next fall will likely have to wait a while longer before they can submit their applications to the state. A proposal to fix the charter school funding problem was delayed in the legislative shuffle.

According to the Attorney General’s office, the Department of Education can’t approve any new charter schools until a budget has been passed. That means a number of schools that were hoping to open in the fall, are hanging in limbo: unsure if they’ll have time to apply

For the past few months a number of proposed charter schools in New Hampshire have been in a sort of limbo, unable to formally apply to the state because of funding concerns in the Board of Education. Today the legislative fiscal committee took a step that might move the issue forward.

Brady Carlson: So Sam, for folks who haven’t been paying attention, bring us up to speed on the charter school situation.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Charter School advocates and organizers packed the room for today’s meeting of the State Board of Education, to ask them rescind the moratorium on New Charter school approvals.

Several of the schools whose applications were denied because of a state budget shortfall were on hand, saying the moratorium was poorly timed.

Schools like the Gate City Charter say that this will keep them from opening on time.

Cevasco: My name is Karin Cevasco, and we are here to compel you to accept our application.

flikr Creative Commons / hdes.copeland

Last month New Hampshire Charter Schools in development got some very bad news: the board of education voted that they would no longer be approving new applications. Their reason: the state is all out of funding for such schools.

Charter school advocates blasted the decision, saying it made no sense, because the new schools would fall under next biennium’s budget. Wednesday the Attorney General’s office told lawmakers if they want to get money to those schools, they’ll have to change the laws.

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The chairman of the state board of education says it’s likely the moratorium on approval of new charter schools will be lifted later this year.

Education officials have been saying for the past two weeks that the state is $4.9 million dollars short on funding for charter schools that have already been approved this year. But speaking today on NHPR’s The Exchange, chairman of the finance committee Ken Weyler said…

Weyler: I am pretty sure that the money is there.

The New Hampshire Board of Education recently announced a moratorium on aid to state-approved charter schools, a stunning development for their supporters. The state says there’s just no money there, raising questions about the future of this alternative source of public education in the Granite State. We'll look at what this may mean for the future of charter schools in New Hampshire.

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Since the state received eleven and a half million dollars in federal money for charter schools last year, there has been a flurry of activity, including in Nashua where two charter schools are in the works. Meanwhile, though many former foes now support charter schools, questions remain on such issues as admission policies, accountability, and how teacher unions fit in.  Today we'll look at how charter schools are doing and where they're heading. 

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