Concord school board member Pam Wicks sent this letter to the House Education Committee today:
Dear Chairman Ladd and honorable members of the House Education Committee,
My name is Pam Wicks and I live in Concord, NH. I am writing today because I have some questions in regards to SB-193 that I do not believe have been addressed relative to establishing educational savings accounts.
The first question would be how this bill will address students with behavior issues. In the past few years our school district has seen an increase in students with severe mental health and behavior issues In our public elementary school. During my time volunteering in the school, II have seen first graders flee the grounds, kick and bang doors when they are placed in an empty room so that they do not harm other students. The staff is doing their very best to help these students but our resources our tapped. Students in this situation, are not going to find a place in a private school, where they have the right to deny enrollment. Where is this child’s choice?
The second question is, private, religious and charter schools are able to cap their enrollment. If there is an influx of 10 students that move into town, our public schools need to find a place for these students. There is no “sorry we’re full, but we’d be happy to put you on a waitlist,” in the public school system. They take ALL students regardless of academic ability, special education needs and behavior needs. If the public school cannot meet the needs of a student based on any of these issues, then they are required to find placement and pay for that students education. Last year in Concord, our out of district budget unexpectedly skyrocketed. A private school will just expel the student and they come back to the public school where we need to come up with the resources to educate them.
The last question is that in our public schools, our budgets are transparent and in most towns across the state, voted on by the public. It’s part of Right to Know to post the budget for public access. Board meetings are recording and minutes are posted. You can see where every dollar is spent and the paper will even post the salaries and names of every public school teacher. The same transparency is not required of private schools and homeschooling.
Please take the time to think about how these issues will be addressed before you move forward with this bill. If public dollars are moving to private and homeschools then the same accountability, access and transparency should be required.
In closing, please reconsider passing SB-193.