Legislative Update: House Education Committee to vote on 14 interim study bills during executive session scheduled for Monday, October 24

The House Education Committee will meet for an executive session on Monday, October, 24, to vote on education bills that were referred to interim study during the 2022 legislative session. Legislative subcommittees convened work sessions throughout the summer and fall to discuss 14 education-related bills, including those relative to school funding, school meals, and cooperative school districts.  

The bills cannot be made into laws; rather, the Committee’s recommendations will be advisory only: The goal of interim study is to decide whether the bill should be brought back next session. The Committee will issue a recommendation to the full House, but any lawmaker can bring the bill back next session, even if the Committee recommends against it. However, the interim study committees provide valuable background on specific issues and provide lawmakers with an opportunity to revise or rework proposed legislation. 

The House Education Committee’s recommendations will be sent to the full chamber and will be posted on the General Court website. 

School Funding

An interim study group held three work sessions on HB 1680, which would overhaul the state’s school funding formula through “foundation opportunity grants.” The system would target funds to districts based on student and community needs, and outcomes like test scores and graduation rates. It also includes a property tax relief program for low- and middle-income homeowners.

HB 1680 “recognizes the cost differences that each district has, and it also applies the state’s limited resources to where they’re needed most,” Rep. David Luneau (D-Hopkinton), the bill’s sponsor, explained. 

The modifications proposed by the bill are aimed at addressing long-term concerns surrounding the way in which the state funds education. The Foundation Opportunity Grant program would increase the base adequacy from $3,787 per student to $6,501. It would also include weighted factors that would provide districts with additional funding based on the size of the district, the socioeconomic demographics of their students, and the number of students who receive special education services.  

School Meals

The future of funding for school meals in the state was a topic of significant conversation as the federal waiver for the universal free lunch program came to an end on September 30, 2022, and the state missed a critical deadline to participate in a pilot program that would have expanded school meal participation for children navigating poverty.

The issue of school meals remains a priority for some lawmakers.  HB 1229 would have established a committee to study school meal programs in New Hampshire’s public schools and non-sectarian schools that accept public funds. In addition to studying the Direct Medicaid Certification Program, this subcommittee became an active work session with a long list of discussion items, including, free and reduced-price meals qualifications, poverty statistics, use of the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to address food insecurity in schools, charter school participation, school meals data collection, and the cost for school districts after state or district reimbursement.

The subcommittee will recommend against moving HB 1229 forward in a future session, saying that there is no need for additional research because the work has already been completed in the interim study. Instead, the committee will advise that future legislation be recommended in specific areas that will target the support of school meals.

Cooperative School Districts

Subcommittees discussed three bills related to cooperative school districts over the summer: HB 1366, which would change the way school board members are apportioned within the district; HB 1399, relating to the procedures for dividing property and liabilities when a coop dissolves; and HB 1679, which would have eliminated all cooperative school districts in the state by 2025.  

At the subcommittee’s final work session on October 12, 2022, subcommittee members stated that they will not recommend any of the three bills, but will recommend creating a comprehensive commission for related issues. 

Other bills 

Here is a complete list of interim study bills that are scheduled to be voted on during the House Education Committee’s session on Monday:

HB234This bill establishes requirements for engaging in protected speech, association, or other forms of expression or communication at public institutions of higher education.
HB1137This bill states the duties and responsibilities of elected school boards and allows school boards to contract with any private school approved by the school board as a school tuition program.
HB1141This bill: I. Requires the resident district to fund a free and appropriate education to a child with disabilities attending a chartered public school. II. Requires the resident district of a child with a disability
HB1630This bill establishes a requirement for high school students to have a course in the introduction to philosophy.
HB1295This bill requires school districts to report in-classroom observer policies and in-classroom audio/video streaming and recording policies to the department of education.
HB1676This bill transfers $1,000,000 from the revenue stabilization reserve account to the department of education for the commissioner of education to award to school districts that improve on statewide assessments.
HB1229This bill establishes a committee to study school meal programs in New Hampshire’s public schools and non-sectarian schools that accept public funds.
HB1313This bill adds public postsecondary educational institutions to the definition of “public employer” for the purpose of prohibiting discrimination in higher education. 
HB1664This bill requires nonpublic schools and education service providers that accept public funds to comply with requirements for criminal history background checks for employees and volunteers.
HB1399This bill modifies the procedures for the disposition of equity and liabilities in buildings, land, and facilities for a school district withdrawing from a cooperative school district.
HB1499This bill adds chartered public schools to the procedures for consideration, approval, plan requirements, and determination of grants for school building aid.
HB1680This bill modifies the determination and funding for an opportunity for a constitutionally adequate education by establishing foundation opportunity budgets and state foundation opportunity grants.
HB1366This bill clarifies the procedure for proposing modifications to apportionment of a cooperative school district at the school district meetings.
HB1373This bill allows for the consideration of parental concerns in the request for a change of school or assignment of a student.
HB1679This bill requires cooperative school districts to review and adopt dissolution plans prior to January 1, 2024 and repeals authority for all cooperative school districts on June 30, 2025.

The full executive session will be live-streamed via YouTube, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL8bVTxCmHE.