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HB 479 – relative to the creation and division of school districts

Docket

AN ACT relative to the creation and division of school districts. (the original title was, “authorizing self-governance of school districts in NH”)

SPONSORS: Rep. Hoell, Merr 23

COMMITTEE: Education

ANALYSIS: This bill allows for the creation new school districts and the division of existing school districts

ANHPE Analysis: This is the NH version of the “parent trigger” proposals supported by Michelle Rhee, the conservative Heartland Institute and put forward in other states.  It’s also got elements of a constitutional amendment, CACR 8 that failed to get out of the House last year.  It is unlikely to get much support here in NH when we are seriously considering consolidation of school .

The main text of bill amends RSA 194-B by inserting a section that requires a school district, upon receipt of a written petition from 10 or more voters in the district, to create a new district (can include dividing the current district) within the city/town) within 30 days.  Upon creation of a new district, the residents in the new district shall have their “taxable property for school tax purposes” disannexed “ from the existing district and annex such persons to the new district…” Selectmen of a city/town that fail to respond as required to a petition can be fined up to $1,500.

The new district may, “notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary”, elect and contract with their own teachers, “define their curricula and assessments”, “elect to withdraw from state recommended programs and waive participation in state education funding” and “establish a school charter which would require a 2/3 vote of school district residents to amend”.

The rationale for the bill is:

I. Pursuant to part 1, article 6 of the New Hampshire constitution, a decentralized district system protects the rights of the people to control public instruction within their communities. Local self-governance is essential to develop policies that respect the unique needs of diverse communities. The district system allows those of similar sentiments to join together for the common good and provide public instruction for children and adults. Allowing people to join or leave districts without restriction is of paramount importance in a free society.

Click here for posts about the bill


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