School choice bill put on hold until 2018 by bipartisan vote of NH House Education Committee | WMUR

John DiStaso writes at WMUR,

A proposed school choice program to provide state funding for parents who want to send their children to private schools is dead at least until 2018 following bipartisan vote of the New Hampshire House Education Committee on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 193 required that state funds are used to allow parents to set up “freedom savings account” through a scholarship organization. Under the bill, the funds could have been used for tuition at private schools, including religious schools, or for homeschooling, tutoring, or to cover other education-related costs, such as textbooks and transportation to and from a private school.

But the education committee, citing a host of unanswered question and disagreeing on whether religious schools should be allowed to be part of the program, voted 15-4 to retain the bill in the committee. The votes means the bill will not get to the House floor this year for a vote…..

Ladd told WMUR after the vote that the bill “wasn’t ready to go forward from the policy perspective. We had a whole host of areas that weren’t ready.”…..

“Where are (the funds) held, and how do you account for the use of the dollars? There are so many issues that are policy-oriented that need resolve,” Ladd said….

Following the committee action, the bill’s chief sponsor, Senate Education Committee Chairman John Reagan, R-Deerfield, said, “You’re once again blocked out by the special interests, which are all the union members and all the administrative associations.”

“They all fear for their jobs, and this (vote to retain the bill) protects their jobs,” Reagan said….

But Democratic Rep. Mary Heath of Manchester said it is “a very flawed bill.”

“Our New Hampshire Constitution is clear that private funds cannot be used for sectarian purposes,” said Heath, who voted against retaining the bill because she wanted it killed outright.

“I personally feel that this bill undermines public education,” Heath said. “We have failed to fund our public schools in the manner in which we should fund them. To move to this process would undermine what we have stood for.”….

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