You will vote on HB 435 this week – for the second time. When you passed HB 435 through to Finance in January, the bill may have looked like a proposal to use up a little extra appropriation in the charter schools account. Now it is clear that HB 435 is a much bigger step than that.
Projections prepared by the department of education show that if HB435 were to pass, charter schools would cost the general fund as much as $130 million over the next 3 years, $30 million more than under current law. (The proposed amendment would not materially affect the impact of the bill.)
Here’s what charter funding would look like under HB 435:
Supporters argue that this surge in funding could be paid for out of the adequacy funds. But adequacy funds for 43 communities are already capped (here’s a list). Dover alone is $1.8 million short. Salem, $1.5 million. Stratham, $743,000. Exeter, $507,000. Fast growing Bedford and Windham are capped at about half their adequacy funds.
And New Hampshire already does far less than most other states in getting aid to students in Berlin and other property poor communities.
These towns will not agree that adequacy funds should be taken from towns losing students but withheld from growing communities. So HB 435 raises big questions about whether New Hampshire should fund a fast-growing new system of charter schools out of the state’s scarce revenues.
As a practical matter, this funding decision is irreversible once schools begin relying on these funds. So the Finance Committee recommended interim study (a real study) 13-8. I believe the Legislature should support this recommendation and allow a responsible review of the State’s charter school funding options.
Here is the detailed information on HB 435.