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Moratorium on Public Charter Schools in New Hampshire
posted by: Cindy Omlin | October 10, 2012, 03:44 AM   

As the number of public charter schools continues to increase, New Hampshire's decision to place a moratorium on new charter schools has warranted intense push-back, from both parents and elected officials. While the situation is magnified in New Hampshire, the tensions reflect a nationwide trend of concern over charter schools' long term growth under funding and regulatory hurdles.


In New Hampshire, the state board of education recently decided on the moratorium after arguing that the state legislature had not provided adequate funding to cover the costs of eight charter schools approved over the last two years, leaving a $5 million deficit. Board Chairman Tom Raffio said the panel "continues to be supportive of charter schools," but it would be inappropriate to clear more for opening, without providing additional funding.


The New Hampshire Center for Innovative Schools criticized the board and the state's department of education, arguing that shortfalls could have been avoided by giving state lawmakers more accurate projections about charter school growth. However, high ranking elected officials stressed they could meet the financial needs of all schools. "We continue to assume we will have money for our school districts, and we think that charter schools should be in same category," stated Representative Will Smith, a member of the state House Finance Committee. "Charter schools are public schools and should be funded the same as our traditional public schools."


Todd Ziebarth, the vice president of state advocacy for the National Charter Alliance argued that while in many states, money for charters is incorporated into the overall state's school funding budget, New Hampshire's difficulty lies in their separation of charter schools as a line item. This separation requires officials to make projections about enrollment.


The situation in New Hampshire is not unique. States across the country continue to struggle to maintain a balance between rapid growth and regulatory and funding concerns. For example, the Los Angeles board of education recently encountered a similar problem when a member called for a temporary hold on charter school applications when concern was raised over quality control and servicing students with disabilities.


While 41 states currently allow public charter schools; a number of states continue to struggle with maintaining both quality programs and funding institutions properly. Due to the rising demand for these innovative schools, many states are failing to catch up with effective policy.


Robin Lake, the director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington commented on this balance, "The financial question has always been central to the charter school debate." She continued to say the growing number of charter schools will require policymakers who are concerned about funding and oversight to "sit down with charter schools and work out solutions."


What do you think about the situation in New Hampshire? Do you believe public charter schools should be funded the same way as traditional public schools in your state?

Comment Below.

Originally posted by alix at AAE. 

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