NH Education Roundup, Oct. 2, 2020

This Week in NH Education News: October 2,  2020

In this issue of Reaching Higher NH’s Education News Brief: Reaching Higher’s Liz Canada visits “The Exchange,” the Commission to Study School Funding debates funding models, and child abuse reporting by educators has decreased.

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Reaching Higher Featured on “The Exchange” — Liz Canada, Reaching Higher’s Director of Policy & Practice, joined Laura Knoy on NHPR’s “The Exchange” on Tuesday, Sept. 29, to discuss school funding. Natalie LaFlamme, a Concord attorney who co-wrote the amicus brief in support of the ConVal Lawsuit, Bill Ardinger, an attorney and member of the Commission to Study School Funding, and Julie King, Superintendent of the Berlin School District, were also on the panel. Liz explained how disparities in educational opportunities have arisen in the state “because we are reliant on the property wealth of a community to fund our schools.” 

School Funding Commission Debates Funding Model — In work group meetings on Tuesday, Sept. 29, members of the Commission to Study School Funding deliberated over some of the key aspects of the school funding model proposed by American Institutes for Research (AIR). The Fiscal Policy Workgroup weighed the pros and cons of two potential revenue options for funding schools. One creates a flat local property tax of $5 per $1,000 of assessed value, while the other relies solely on a statewide property tax. 

Advocates of the latter option said court rulings have made clear that whatever the state defines as an adequate education it must also pay for. Opponents said that shifting the full burden to the state has proved problematic for other states and that recommendations built on such a model are not likely to pass muster with the legislature. 

The Commission’s Adequacy Workgroup debated the merits of the model’s outcome-based definition of adequacy, as opposed to the current funding formula, which  uses an inputs-based definition.

“I’m not really opposed to it, I’m just not sold on it yet. I’m also not completely satisfied that an inputs based approach … wouldn’t also fit the bill,” said Commission member Iris Estabrook.

The Commission to Study School Funding was formed during the 2019 Legislative Session. Its recommendations for the upcoming Legislative Session are due Dec. 1. 

Public Engagement Sessions Scheduled: The Commission to Study School Funding’s Public Engagement Workgroup is seeking input from community members this fall. Remaining focus groups, which are organized and facilitated by NH Listens, include the following:

  • Youth Voice (High School Students and Recent Graduates of NH Public Schools)

Public Commenting Session, October 7, 4-5 pm
Focus Groups: October 13, 6-7:30 pm (register here) and October 14, 4-5:30 pm (register here)

  • 65+ Resident Focus Groups 

October 6, 8-9:30am and 4-5:30pm (register here)

Child Abuse Reporting by Educators Still Low — Six months into the pandemic, with some of the state’s largest districts still doing remote learning, reports of child abuse by school and childcare workers are down 49% from August 2019, according to the Concord Monitor. Child abuse reports decreased drastically in March when schools first closed. They’re now on the rise again, but the reports are coming mostly from law enforcement. The Granite State Children’s Alliance has responded by creating resources to help teachers spot signs of child abuse in the online environment and expanding its training program to the general public. 

What We’re Reading: 

Betsy DeVos Admits Defeat in Legal Battle Over Coronavirus Aid
Education Week, Andrew Ujifusa, Sept. 25, 2020

30-Year War Over Education Funding Intensifies
InDepthNH, Garry Rayno, Sept. 27, 2020

School Attendance in the COVID Era: What Counts As ‘Present’?
NPR, Anya Kamenetz, Sept. 24, 2020