On Friday, December 11, 2020, Joint Fiscal Committee voted 7-3 to accept the first $10 million of a 5-year federal Charter School Program (CSP) grant. The goal of the CSP is to double the number of existing charter schools and expand the capacity of existing schools over a five-year period, disseminate best practices, and rework the authorization process.
The total grant would bring $46 million to New Hampshire over five years to open 20 new charter schools, duplicate five existing charter schools, and expand the capacity of the existing charter schools.
New Hampshire has received two federal grants to open charter schools: in 2003, a $7.7 million grant, and in 2010, a $10.8 million grant. The NH Department of Education expended the last of the 2010 grant in 2018. The latest CSP grant, which was awarded in 2019 and totals $46 million over five years, was larger than that awarded to any other state applicant.
About Charter Schools
In New Hampshire, charter schools are public schools. They receive state funding, their students take the same statewide assessments as neighborhood schools, and they have to follow many of the same anti-discrimination laws. However, they are exempt from some of the other laws and rules that apply to neighborhood schools, and the state rules governing educator certification have modifications for charter schools.
As of the 2020-2021 school year, New Hampshire had 31 approved charter schools. One additional school is moving through the authorization process and expects to open to students in 2021.
Charters in New Hampshire are typically designed to serve specific needs in their communities. North Country Charter Academy, for example, provides an alternative education setting to students who are, or may be, at risk of dropping out. The Academy for Science and Design serves students with a strong interest in STEM. And, Mill Falls Charter School is the state’s first public Montessori school for K-8 students.