About half of NH students would qualify for proposed voucher program

According to Representative Glenn Cordelli (Tuftonboro), a House Education Committee member and school choice advocate, about half of New Hampshire students would qualify for vouchers under SB 193, reported the Concord Monitor:

Republican Rep. Glenn Cordelli, a major proponent of Senate Bill 193, testified before the House Finance Committee that, according to state Department of Education figures, about 84,500 students would qualify for the “education savings accounts” – a voucher-like program – that the bill would create.

That figure includes the number of students who currently qualify for free and reduced-price lunch and who are on special education plans. It also includes an estimate for the number of students who don’t qualify for free and reduced-price lunch but would nevertheless meet the bill’s income eligibility criteria.

But what it doesn’t include is the number of students who might qualify for the program under its other eligibility criteria – like applying to a charter school but not being admitted – and for which it could be difficult to find good data.

…To sway certain moderate Republicans who worried about the bill’s potential impact on local school districts, the bill was amended to include so-called “stabilization grants” to partially reimburse districts for losses tied to the program.

“I do not think that the dollar amount for the stabilization amount is going to be very significant,” Cordelli said. “I believe there is money in the education trust fund or the general fund.”

A study released in December by public school advocacy organization Reaching Higher New Hampshire calculated that the bill would cost the state $31 million in new spending over five years – assuming just under 50,000 qualified for the program, and 3 percent of those eligible used the program.

Opposition to the bill, especially from the public school sector, has mostly focused on the legislation’s potential impact on the finances of local districts. And multiple superintendents reiterated those worries Tuesday, adding that the state’s cuts to existing school aid programs – like building aid and special education funding – made them loath to believe the Legislature would keep its promise where the bill’s hold-harmless provision was concerned.

Source: Report: About half of N.H. students would qualify for education savings accounts | Concord Monitor