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Home » Bills » Concord Monitor on the new amendment to SB 193: “Eyeing costs, lawmakers once again amend N.H. school voucher bill”

Concord Monitor on the new amendment to SB 193: “Eyeing costs, lawmakers once again amend N.H. school voucher bill”

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The Concord Monitor summarized the biggest proposed changes to SB 193, pointing out that:

When it was first pitched to the Legislature, Senate Bill 193 envisioned the most expansive, voucher-like program in the country. But in the face of growing concerns about the cost of the proposal, lawmakers have considerably narrowed their ambitions.

An amended version of the controversial school choice measure SB 193 significantly restricts eligibility, caps enrollment in the program and makes major changes to the way schools would be reimbursed for losses.

(The new amendment shifts virtually all of the cost from the State’s General Fund to local school districts.)

The newest iteration of the bill would restrict eligibility to students within 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which aligns with criteria for free and reduced lunch. Students would also need to spend at least a year in public school to qualify; those about to enter first grade or kindergarten could no longer apply. Students in schools not providing an “adequate” education according to state standards would also qualify….

The new bill also caps enrollment based on how large a district is. Districts with more than 300 students, for example, could only lose 3 percent of their free and reduced-price lunch population in a single year. Old versions of the bill also reimbursed school districts for any amount over one-quarter of 1 percent of their budget. The newest amendment gives schools a flat, one-time $1,500 “adjustment grant” per student who leaves….

At a committee hearing last week, House Finance Committee Chairman Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, called the bill one of the most “poorly drafted” pieces of major legislation he’d seen. But on Monday, Kurk said the new changes were a big step in the right direction.

“That amendment does a very good job at taking a bill that was somewhat incoherent and making it a more effective piece of legislation,” he said.

The bill isn’t quite out of the woods, he added. The state’s Legislative Budget Assistant has yet to crunch the numbers on what the newest version of the bill could mean financially for the state’s general fund and for local school districts.

“The financial analysis that the LBA is doing, I think, will play a large role in what happens,” he said.

Read the whole article here: Eyeing costs, lawmakers once again amend N.H. school voucher bill

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