Education Funding Bills

2021-0076

HB

Title:

relative to the formula for determining funding for an adequate education.

Sponsors: (Prime) Steven SmithRick LaddSkip RollinsJohn PotucekWalter StapletonJudy Aron

 

2021-0077

HB

Title:

relative to the distribution of adequate education grants.

Sponsors: (Prime) Steven SmithJohn PotucekDouglas ThomasChris TrueDavid LoveRuth WardBob GreeneJudy Aron

 

2021-0127

HB

Title:

relative to state aid to school districts with special education pupils.

Sponsors: (Prime) Rick LaddBarbara ShawSteven SmithJames GrayRuth WardJames AllardJudy Aron

I have written before about separate issues regarding state education funding, and how they should not be mixed up. If it was as simple as pumping more money in, the coonversation would be simpler and many think that is the extent of it. It isn’t. While that political fight happens, you lose more money every year.

Stop the Bleeding

Several towns here have a crippling problem. You actually receive less funding each year than the previous year. To catch up on the history of why this happens, see https://steve4nh.com/2020/03/02/what-is-a-stabilization-grant/ In my district, Charlestown is hit the hardest.

See also https://www.sentinelsource.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/were-working-to-make-school-funding-fair-by-steven-smith/article_3d473efb-0cf5-577b-8b85-b998a96aac5e.html

I filed LSR 2021-076 “relative to the formula for determining funding for an adequate education” to replace the current distribution formula with one that ends the grant reductions, and restores most of the lost funding. This is a standalone bill that can be passed regardless of the larger arguments about education funding sources and is critical to towns hit the hardest, like Charlestown and Langdon.

This new formula is the product of a two year bipartisan study committee. You can read the committee documents and reports for yourself at http://gencourt.state.nh.us/statstudcomm/committees/1365/ For some unknown reason, the current Legislature declared it “dead on arrival” and opted for another 2 year study. The result was that Charlestown lost another $100,000 each year while they formed their new commission and punted the fix another two years down the road, at least. Whatever else happens with education, we need to pass this bill to stop the bleeding. Every year that goes by without this costs Charlestown another $100,000.

Special Education Funding

Everyone agrees that special education funding is a burden on school districts. This is why I cosponsored “relative to state aid to school districts with special education pupils“. This will save districts money by altering just one number in statute.

In calculating the cost of a student whose special education requires additional resources beyond that of a general education student, Special education aid support from the state is based upon the following formula.  (Note: that figures used are approximations and rounded to the nearest 1,000.)

Now apply the change of 3.5 > 2.5

As demonstrated above, by reducing the initial multiplier of 3.5 x’s the estimated state average expenditure, the district’s cost per pupil is reduced, netting a savings to the district.  The current Commission for the purpose of Studying the Cost for the Opportunity of an Adequate Education is working with a cost figure that will most likely exceed the $16,000 figure per pupil as approximated in this communication.  As this figure increases, so will district costs for special education.  Although the commission has not made any recommendations as of this date, it appears likely that the costing of a special education student  (student with IEP) will increase significantly and possibly by a weighted amount of 4 times the cost of a general education pupil + the general education cost.  A district paying 3 x’s that amount prior to receiving the 80% support from the state, will be very expensive.  The reduction to 2.5 x’s will work to better assist the local district serve to reduce funds needed from local property tax.

Transparency

Currently, state aid goes to the district. The district figures out how much incoming fundng they receive, and then bills the towns for the balance. It would be much simpler for the district to figure the cost and have the town pay the bill. Sometimes we manage to claw some of your money back from the state. Sometimes we offset costs with grants. Without this process being more visible, it is hard for the recpients to see the impact clearly. I want that $100,000 reduction to be crystal clear. There has been surprisingly little public outrage over this. My hope is that by making the grant reductions more transaprent, people will help make some noise and support any bills that stop the grant reductions. This is why I have filed “relative to the distribution of adequate education grants“. I met with the Dept. of Education and they report that this is easy to implement, and may realize an efficiency for them.

Math and Transparency over Politics

There were some years where we were able to get enough supplemental municipal grants to almost offset the stabilization grant reductions. Those are not guranteed and you can’t count on them. You deserve to know what the numbers are and be able to count on them. I have heard too any times “I wonder what the Legislature will do wth our funding this time”. Who ever you are voting for, tell them to stop the bleeding and pass the formula.

About Rep. Steven Smith

Steven Smith is a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, serving his fifth term. Rep. Smith currently represents Acworth, Charlestown, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, and Washington. Rep. Smith is the Chairman of the Sullivan County Delegation.
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