NH Education Roundup, Jan. 11, 2021

Preschool students look for insects under stones in a school garden.
Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

In this week’s Education News Brief: Executive Council accepts charter school grant money, Sununu addresses school funding, preschool/kindergarten enrollment declines, Concord School District pilots web monitoring program, and NH town caught up in school choice debate.

Executive Council votes to accept federal charter school grant money — On Thursday, January 7, the NH Executive Council voted to accept the first $10 million of the federal Charter School Program (CSP) grant. The goal of the grant would be to double the number of charter schools in NH.

Governor Sununu calls for “more balance” in education funding — In his inaugural address on Thursday night, Governor Chris Sununu called for “more balance” in school funding in his upcoming term. 

“More balance in our education funding – it must be addressed,” he said, while calling for neighborliness and moving forward. 

In the previous budget, schools got a $138 million boost in school funding — restoring previous funding streams, like the Fiscal Capacity Disparity Aid that was cut in 2010 — which are scheduled to expire at the end of this school year. Several bills this year would address school funding inequities more broadly, and we’ve seen at least one so far that would hold funding over FY2022 so that lawmakers would have more time to address the impending, and potentially devastating, cuts.

Fewer children attending preschool, kindergarten — Enrollment in public kindergarten and preschool programs has declined significantly this year, NHPR reported last week. Data recently released from the NH Department of Education finds that 36% fewer children are enrolled in preschool this year than last year, and 14% fewer children are enrolled in kindergarten. The decrease is part of an overall decline in public school enrollment and is likely to present challenges for schools as they prepare their budgets as well as plan for next year. 

Concord School District to pilot student web monitoring program — The Concord School District has begun using a program that tracks students’ online activities at home and notifies administrators of search terms that might indicate suicidal tendencies, Superintendent Kathleen Murphy told the Concord School Board last week. Board members expressed some reservations about the program, which is part of a state-mandated youth suicide prevention and response plan that the district is developing. Murphy will present the plan to the Board for approval in March. 

Small NH town embroiled in school choice debate — A disagreement over school choice has forced the Goshen School District to forge a new “anchor partnership” with the Claremont/Unity School District, the Eagle Times reported last month. The Goshen School District, which serves just 86 students in grades K-12, recently cut ties with the Newport School District after Newport declined to approve Goshen’s effort to expand its school choice offerings to the elementary grades. The move has stirred up strife in town over the larger issue of school choice, with many community members advocating for private schools to be included in Goshen’s tuition agreement. New Hampshire law prohibits the use of public money toward religious schools. A recent U.S Supreme Court ruling challenges the constitutionality of that clause. 

Capitol attack raises questions for classroom, family discussions — The storming of the United States Capitol last week by a mob intent on sabotaging our democracy and the processes that uphold it has left many Americans shaken. The events also raise important questions about government, law enforcement, rights and responsibilities, the media, and more. The following resources may be useful to parents and teachers in helping young people process what happened: 


For school counselors, the challenge is reaching students who are struggling
Concord Monitor, Eileen O’Grady, January 10, 2021

Community grieves suicide of Mont Vernon 7th-grader
Union Leader, Kimberly Houghton, January 6, 2021

Bedford community heartbroken following death of adored educator
Union Leader, Kimberly Houghton, January 8, 2021

16 Charts that Changed the Way We Thought About America’s Schools This Year
The 74, Kevin Mahnken, Dec. 15, 2020

5 big questions facing Miguel Cardona, Biden’s pick for education secretary
Chalkbeat, Matt Barnum, Dec. 23, 2020