NH Parents, Public School Advocates Oppose New Voucher Bill
Monday, December 27, 2021
A bill in New Hampshire would allow local communities to opt into financing education for children who attend private schools or homeschooling, on top of the existing statewide voucher program.
House Bill 607 as amended is up for a full House vote in early January, and parents and educators are concerned about its implications for public schools.
Jen, a parent who formed the volunteer group Save Our Schools New Hampshire and opted not to use her last name, said any investments should be towards improving Granite State public schools, for instance, providing all school districts with full-day kindergarten.
"These vouchers would be paid for by local property taxes," Jen explained. "And the other thing that is also really alarming is that there's no income limit for families."
She said the statewide voucher bill has an income limit of 300% of the poverty level. Lawmakers budgeted $129,000 for the statewide program, enough for about 28 students, yet the price tag is now up to more than $6 million, since more than 1,500 children have been signed up.
Proponents of the new voucher bill argued it gives voters local control over whether they want to fund the program using their property taxes. But Jen countered once a school district opts in, they are on the hook for funding the students who signed up during the year throughout their education, even if the district opts out of the program after a year.
"That could mean a loss of revenue," Jen asserted. "It could mean for some districts, of millions of dollars every year for up to 15 years, so there really is no voter control."
She added the voucher programs are not unique to New Hampshire, noting national special interests have passed or are working on similar legislation. She urged Granite Staters to contact their legislators about the issue.
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