NH Education Roundup, Jan. 25, 2021

In this week’s NH Education News Brief: sharp reduction in school funds on the horizon; Extended Learning Opportunities going strong; Biden releases plans to reopen schools; and battle brewing over “donor town” funding model.

Students work on an Extended Learning Opportunity projects at Winnacunnet High School. Courtesy photo

Without Legislative action, NH schools face $89 million in cuts — Already dealing with the financial hardships of the pandemic, New Hampshire schools will see an estimated $89 million reduction in adequacy aid in FY 2022, according to a Department of Education report. The cuts stem primarily from decreased student enrollment, a decrease in paperwork filed for the federal school lunch program — due to a waiver created during the pandemic — and the expiration of one-time funding for the state’s most vulnerable communities.  Several efforts to mitigate the shortfall have been introduced, including proposals to hold schools harmless from the effects of the pandemic, expand targeted aid programs, and increase the inputs in the state’s existing funding formula. Bills that would revise the funding formula are expected but have not yet been introduced. 

Extended Learning Opportunities continue to grow — Over the past 16 years, schools have increasingly embraced Extended Learning Opportunities as a vehicle for personalized, competency-based learning and college and career preparation. In spite of the difficulties of the past year, ELO programs are still going strong, long-time ELO directors told RHNH in a story celebrating ELO month in NH. 

Pres. Biden lays out plan to reopen schools — On the first day of his presidency last week, Pres. Biden unveiled a school reopening plan that includes $130 billion in dedicated funding for K-12 schools and another $350 billion in state and local aid designed to help districts cope with the budgetary fallout of the pandemic. Additionally, the president wants to use FEMA disaster relief funds to reimburse schools for personal protective equipment and devote additional resources to screening, testing, and tracing programs for schools. While those proposals will need Congressional approval, reopening guidance plans have already been set in motion through an executive order establishing a Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse.

Resistance to “donor town” model gains attention — A coalition formed to oppose potential school funding proposals that redistribute the statewide property tax has reignited an old debate. Earlier this month, news began to spread that the city of Portsmouth has renewed a lobbying effort to fight funding models that reestablish so-called donor towns. The news touched off a heated exchange between officials in property wealthy towns and funding reform activists. The controversy stems from anticipated legislation: several bills, proposed by members of both parties, would collect the money statewide education tax from communities to pay for public schools. All school funding-related bills at this point that are not “hold harmless” bills would either collect all SWEPT, or collect excess SWEPT — including a bill sponsored by six Republicans. 


The inauguration of Pres. Biden and start of a new administration present an opportunity to talk with young people about the role of government and state of our nation. Here are some resources to consider: 

The Atlantic: How to Keep Your Kids Out of the Culture War (an interview with the Editor-in-Chief and Chief Purpose Officer for Highlight’s Magazine)

NPR: Now Is A Good Time To Talk To Kids About Civics  (a 23 minute listen, with a learning guide provided)

New York Times Learning Network: Amanda Gorman and the ‘Hill We Climb’

Parents.com: These Are President-Elect Joe Biden’s Policy Plans for Issues That Matter Most To Parents

The Biden Plan for Educators, Students, and Our Future

Scholastic: Listen and Read: What Does the President Do?


Vermont lawsuits, New Hampshire legislation part of renewed push for school choice
Valley News, Alex Hanson, Jan. 16, 2021

13,000 School Districts, 13,000 Approaches to Teaching During Covid
New York Times, Kate Taylor, Jan. 21, 2021

NH Teachers, Families, Look for Ways To Discuss Divisive Current Events
NHPR, Sarah Gibson, Jan. 19, 2021

What Biden’s ‘American Rescue Plan’ Would Do for Schools and Students, in One Chart
Education Week, Andrew Ujifusa, Jan. 20, 2021

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