New Hampshire Mulls Funding for Charter Schools

Problems with funding new charter schools led to a moratorium on new approvals in New Hampshire last September, but lawmakers are moving quickly to fix the problem. Danielle Curtis, in the Nashua Telegraph, reports that Rep. Ralph Boehm of Litchfield and two other members of the House Education Committee have proposed a bill that will lift the moratorium.

"The need is there for these schools," said Rep. Boehm. His bill would commit the state to funding all approved charter schools, without imposing any limit on the number of approvals.

Last year, the Department of Education sent an inaccurate report of projected charter school enrollment to the Legislature. Spending was limited to 110% of the amount appropriated to charter schools. As an unintended consequence, approving new schools grew more difficult and led to the September freeze on new approvals.

The new bill would require that the "amount necessary to fund chartered public school tuition payments … is hereby appropriated to the department from the education trust fund established. The education trust fund shall be used to satisfy the state's obligation under this paragraph."

The bill places no limits on charter school spending because, in theory, spending follows a student rather than being attached to a school. If more students enroll in a charter school, its funding should increase. Perhaps for this reason, Boehm reports that there is strong support for the bill in the Education Committee.

Even so, the bill is not likely to become law until summer, so new charter schools may not be able to open in the fall of 2013. Among the applicants is a charter school in Nashua; Gate City Charter School for the Arts will have to watch and hope for the best.

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