Voucher bill amendment removes stabilization grants, caps enrollment, and changes eligibility

Photo credit: Wordpress.com

The House Finance subcommittee released an amendment to SB 193, the bill that creates a statewide voucher program, on Monday. The new version of the bill restricts eligibility only to students within 185% of the federal poverty level who have attended at least one year in public school, caps enrollment based on district size, changes the accountability requirements, and removes the stabilization grants. Reaching Higher NH will release a thorough analysis on the new amendment in the coming days. 

From the Concord Monitor:

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 bill would establish an “education savings account” program in New Hampshire. Under the proposal, eligible families who decide to pull their children out of public school in favor of private options would get 95 percent of the per-pupil grant their school district would have gotten to educate their child. For low-income students, the state grant is about $5,500.

The new eligibility criteria still mean thousands could benefit. In the fall of 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, just under 44,000 children – 27 percent of the state’s public school population – were on free and reduced-price lunch.

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…

The bill isn’t quite out of the woods, said House Finance Committee Chairman Neal Kurk. 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.

Follow Reaching Higher NH on Facebook and Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter to stay up to date on our latest news and analyses.

Source: Eyeing costs, lawmakers once again amend N.H. school voucher bill | Concord Monitor