School officials speak out against voucher system

From Seacoast Online

Hampton and Dover were the latest school boards to vote against SB 193, the bill that would create a statewide voucher bill, according to Seacoast Online

“School boards including those in Hampton and Dover have taken votes expressing opposition to Senate Bill 193, which will go before the House floor Jan. 3. The bill would allow eligible students to attend other schools or be home-schooled using funds that would have gone to their public school district if they went there. Families with household income less than or equal to 300 percent of the federal poverty limit would be eligible for the funding.

Proponents say vouchers will afford parents deserved freedom in picking their child’s education, while opponents say it takes funds from public schools and leaves no accountability for the use of the money by their recipients. They also say the loss of funds will hurt taxpayers, who they fear will have to foot the bill for fixed costs in their public school system.

“It’s just another mandate to derail public education,” said Hampton School Board member Frank DeLuca, whose board voted unanimously to express opposition to the bill at its December meeting.

Dover’s School Board and City Council sent a joint letter to Concord stating they are unanimously against the bill, according to School Board members Matt Lahr and Keith Holt.

Gov. Chris Sununu in November said he supported the bill and his spokesman Benjamin Vihstadt said this week the governor intends to sign it.

“This is the first step in ensuring that New Hampshire’s education system continues to be on the forefront of innovation, giving parents and children the ability to choose the education path that is best suited for them, closing the opportunity gap and opening pathways like never before, regardless of economic status,” Sununu said in a statement last month.

SAU 90 Superintendent Kathleen Murphy in the Hampton School District fears students going to other schools with vouchers takes money that would have gone to fixed costs like teacher salaries that don’t go away when one student leaves the district.

School districts that lose one-quarter of 1 percent of their previous year’s budget would be reimbursed up to that percentage by the state through stabilization grants under the new bill. State Rep. Joseph Pitre, R-Farmington, who co-sponsored the bill, said that reimbursement should negate concern for school districts losing too much of their budget. He said the argument school districts will be in the hole financially is a “scare tactic” by the bill’s proponents.

However, Bill Duncan, a member of the state Board of Education and New Castle resident, said the funding source for the bill’s reimbursement mechanism has yet to be identified, and he said there is no guarantee one will.

″(The Legislature) underfunds a lot of things or defunds a lot of things,” he said. “There’s no reliability to determine that (stabilization grants will be funded).”

Hampstead officials have also spoken out against the bill.

Source: School officials speak out against voucher system | Seacoast Online