On Monday, April 11, House Education Chair Rick Ladd (R-Haverhill) introduced three amendments to Senate Bill (SB) 420 that would increase state funding for special education and add reporting requirements for districts that receive the “extraordinary need” grants that are created by the bill.
Download a copy of the amendments here.
SB 420, increasing funding for communities with low tax bases
The original version of SB 420, as introduced by Senator Erin Hennessey (R-Littleton), would create a $25 million “extraordinary need” grant for towns that have low property tax bases in 2022 and 2023. The grant would be awarded based on a sliding scale and would provide towns like Charlestown, Berlin, Concord, and Winchester with additional state aid for public schools. The town-by-town estimates can be found starting on page 5 of this document.
The amendments do not change the calculation of the extraordinary need grant.
Amendment 1380h, increasing funding for certain special education services
Under Amendment 1380h, the state would provide an estimated $14.7 million more in state funding in 2023 for students receiving certain special education services (titled “Category B disabilities”). Public schools would receive an additional $1,330 per student who receives services for the following disabilities:
- Emotional disturbance
- Hearing impairment
- Multiple disabilities
- Intellectual disability
- Other health impairments
- Orthopedic impairments
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Visual Impairments
According to NH Department of Education estimates, there are approximately 11,306 students who receive services for the listed disabilities. Data for the precise number of students who fall within the list are not yet available; however, the NH Department of Education published weighted estimates for a select number of towns, which can be downloaded here.
NOTE: Town-by-town data for students qualifying for special education by category are not publicly available. Reaching Higher NH will publish a full analysis once the data are made available.
Amendments 1381h and 1384h, requiring student achievement reports
Amendments 1381h and 1384h would require districts that receive the extraordinary need grant funding to report on student progress and achievement and would provide funding for best practices in teaching and learning.
Under the amendments, a school district receiving grant funds would have to craft an accountability plan that outlines how the district intends to improve student achievement and educational growth. The plan would have to be approved by the Department of Education. The district would work in consultation to develop and administer the grant accountability assessment as part of the accountability plan. According to the amendment, the goal of the grant funds would be to support schools in providing “successful, best practice student learning approaches.”
One question that arises regarding the accountability plan is the statutory definition of “consultation” and the intended role of the NH Department of Education in the administration of the grant accountability assessment.
The House Education Committee is scheduled to hold an executive session on SB 420 and the proposed amendments on Wednesday, April 13 at 10 a.m. The committee can be reached at HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us