NH Education Roundup, Aug. 28, 2020

In this issue of Reaching Higher NH’s Education News Brief: Educators and school nurses share concerns to legislative committee; AIR presents simulator tool to school funding commission; and schools prepare to address social-emotional issues. 

Have something to share? Email us at staff@reachinghighernh.org
Educators, School Nurses Ask for Help — In front of a legislative committee on relief and recovery, educators testified that schools are struggling to ensure the safety of students and teachers with budgetary and time constraints that are out of their control. School nurses also need more support and training to respond to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the NH School Nurses’ Association. 

Commissioner Frank Edelblut responded, saying that school officials can use the $37 million in federal CARES Act funding (about $213 per student), can use federal Title funds in “creative” ways, and state fiscal disparity aid. The state disparity aid is a new, single-year funding stream approved in the 2019 budget, which provides more funding to districts with high concentrations of students navigating poverty, as well as districts with lower property wealth per student, and is not available to all districts: 146 of 245 districts are not eligible for fiscal capacity disparity aid, including towns like Nashua, Exeter, Hollis, Hooksett, Londonderry, Portsmouth, and Salem. Fiscal Capacity Disparity Aid amounts can be found here, beginning on page 8

School Funding Commission Views New Simulator Tool — After unveiling a new school funding proposal to the School Funding Commission last week, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) presented an Education Funding Simulator at the Commission’s meeting on Monday, Aug. 24. The tool, a series of linked Excel worksheets containing town-level variables, allows users to explore different policy options and revenue generation scenarios. It relies on a proposed funding formula that combines a statewide property tax and a uniform local property tax and distributes funds to districts using a weighted formula based on student outcomes. 

Commission Under Scrutiny Ahead of Recommendations — As the Commission moves closer to making recommendations for the upcoming legislative session, its work has begun to draw attention and criticism. Union Leader columnist Patrick Hynes speculated that the Commission is toying with a broad-based tax, and Concord Monitor editorial writer Ralph Jiminez pointed out that the AIR proposal for a combined state-local tax, collected by the state, won’t go over well with property-wealthy towns who stand to lose revenue under the formula. 

Schools Look Beyond Learning Gap — As educators assess student needs this fall, they’ll be addressing a host of social-emotional issues in addition to academic gaps that cropped up during school closures last spring. Mental health workers in the state say the demand for their services among young people has increased, and educators say they’re concerned about anxiety and feelings of isolation wrought by the pandemic. 
Learning Opportunities

A Journey of Anti-racismLive Webinar on Thursdays, October 1 through 29 is a series of facilitated discussions on oppression, implicit bias, microaggressions, power & privilege, and moving toward anti racism. This five part series will provide an opportunity to participate in experiential exercises, reflection, and dialogue. Provided by Southern NH Area Health Education Center, 7.5 educator, nursing, social work, and professional credits available. For more information, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-journey-of-anti-racism-tickets-115763893923

William W. Treat webinars featuring Judge Merrick Garland, Ted McConnell, Louise Dube, Michael Rebell and others, beginning September 9: The NH Institute for Civics Education is hosting several civics-centered webinars throughout the fall, including: A Conversation with Judge Merrick Garland, Why is Civic Education Essential to Our National Security?Civics In The Middle: Engaging Student Voice For Inquiry To Informed ActionDemocracy In Action In Elementary School: How To Infuse Principles Of Democracy In Everyday Teaching And LearningAuthentic Engagement: Community Connections In Legal EducationFor more information, visit https://www.nhcivics.org/events
What We’re Listening To

Nice White Parents
From Serial and The New York Times: “Nice White Parents” looks at the 60-year relationship between white parents and the public school down the block.
What We’re Reading

My Turn: This Year, Schools Should Rethink How Students Are Graded
Concord Monitor, Carisa Corrow, August 27, 2020

New Hampshire Charter Schools Warn of Financial Fallout from Pandemic
NHPR, Sarah Gibson, August 25, 2020

Private Schools See Surge of Interest as Remote vs. Hybrid Debate Continues
Concord Monitor, Eileen O’Grady, August 22, 2020

Keene Schools Face Uncertainty Over Air Quality
Union Leader, Damien Fisher, August 27, 2020

Second Judge Blocks DeVos’ Virus Relief Rule, Calls Her Reasoning ‘Jiggery-Pokery’
Ed Week, Andrew Ujifusa, August 26, 2020