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Rep. Ken Weyler introduces more charter school bills to the NH House Education Committee

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Rep. Weyler (R-Kingston) had two charter bills before the House Education Committee last week.  HB 1392 repeals  RSA 194-B:3-a, V(c), which says,

“Not more than 10 percent of the resident pupils in any grade shall be eligible to transfer to a chartered public school in any school year without the approval of the local school board.”

And HB 1393 requires school districts to pay charter schools a portion of the tuition under certain circumstances.

Taken together, the two bills promote accelerated growth of charter enrollments by enabling large scale replacement of district schools by charter schools as seen in recent years in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago and other cities.

Here is Rep. Weyler’s testimony about HB 1392.  He does not really give a reason for wanting to remove the 10% limit on annual transfers.  He does make a couple of points, though.

At minute 0:50, Rep. Weyler says that NH charter enrollment will grow by only 50 students between this year and next.  However, NHDOE, working with the charter association, projects that charter enrollment will grow by 1,003 students, from 1,999 to 3,002.  That’s 50% – not 50 students.

Below, Rick Trombly, Executive Director of NEA-NH, testifies in opposition to the bill, saying that NEA-NH does not oppose charters in principle but that the methodology the NHDOE describes is right and does not need to be changed.

He says that the State should leave the limit in place and review the impact of a charter on the local public school as part of it’s analysis of a charter application.

He goes on to make the point that this bill should be considered in the context of HB 435, which increases charter funding and is currently under consideration in the House Finance Committee.  He says that when charters initially got going, advocates said, “We can do it.  We can fund these things.  We can raise the money.” At the time, NEA-NH predicted that contributions would be difficult to raise and that the schools would come to the State seeking a portion of the limited education funding available.  That has always an issue for the NEA and now that’s what’s happening.

Dean Michner, from the NH School Boards Association, then testifies mainly to the historical context, saying that the 10% annual cap was put in place to allow schools to plan in cases where specialized charters that might offer STEM courses, for instance, and draw students for whom the school had developed AP courses.

And here is Rep. Weyler’s presentation of HB 1393, as well as testimony from Dean Michener of the School Boards Association and Laura Hainey of the AFT opposing the bill.

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