Jason Moon

Seacoast Reporter

Before joining NHPR in February of 2015, Jason held internships with a variety of public radio organizations including StoryCorps, Transom.org, and WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama. He studied philosophy, political science, and audio documentaries at Bennington College in Vermont.

Manchester Schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas presented his budget proposal to the city’s board of alderman Tuesday night. The plan looks to make up for the district’s projected $5 million shortfall.

The state’s largest school district has been squeezed financially in recent years by a combination of factors including reduced aid from the state and declining student enrollment.

Sean Hurley, NHPR

Among the groups in New Hampshire expressing concern over President Donald Trump’s proposed budget are local providers of the Meals on Wheels program.

Meals on Wheels services are administered by local organizations all over the country and is not a federal program. But those local providers receive a varying, but substantial amount of money from the federal Department of Health and Human Services. President Trump is proposing to cut that agency’s budget by 18 percent.

Portsmouth’s City Attorney is advising City Councilors not to pursue a ban on single-use plastic bags. It's the latest in what has been a persistent legal question about whether municipalities have the authority to enact such a ban.

http://www.newmarketschoolprojects.com/

Voters in several towns weighed in on school construction projects yesterday

In Hampton, voters approved a $26 million renovation of the town’s middle school after rejecting the idea last year.

Kathleen Murphy is Hampton School District Superintendent.

“This is pretty good, this is pretty exciting. It’s a project that is long overdue but one that I think will be a testament to the Hampton community.”

Jason Moon for NHPR

Tuesday saw a collision of two great New Hampshire traditions: nor’easters and town meeting day. They might not seem like the best pairing, but as NHPR’s Jason Moon reports the two found a way to coexist.

Tuesday’s nor’easter is causing a bit of commotion before it even arrives, sowing confusion about whether towns have the legal authority to reschedule their votes for better weather.

When weather reports began predicting a late winter nor’easter for this week, many towns around New Hampshire did something that sounds reasonable enough – they rescheduled the date of their town meetings.

Town meeting day is next week and for many communities the item that will be getting the most attention has to do with schools.

NHPR reporter Jason Moon joined All Things Considered Host Peter Biello to talk about what’s on the ballot for schools around the state this year.

Allegra Boverman

  In a letter to new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Governor Chris Sununu complains that federal regulations on storm water runoff are too burdensome for some New Hampshire towns.

The regulations, known as MS4 permits, are meant to reduce the amount of pollutants that get discharged into bodies of water via storm water runoff from developed areas.

They would require dozens of towns in New Hampshire to make significant investments in their storm water drainage systems to comply.

Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

The state Department of Environmental Services says a proposal to set stricter limits for certain contaminants in drinking water could cost the state over 30 million dollars.

UNH Law

The University of New Hampshire School of Law has named an expert in intellectual property law as its new dean.

After what school officials call an ‘extensive national search,’ Megan Carpenter, currently on the faculty of Texas A&M’s law school, will take over as dean of UNH Law in July.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Students at UNH held a demonstration Wednesday in observance of International Women’s Day.

A group of about 30 University of New Hampshire students gathered outside to hold a silent vigil for the estimated 47,000 people around the world that die every year because of unsafe abortions. That number comes from a World Health Organization estimate.

Rachel Sabol, a senior at UNH who attended the vigil, said the event was about showing solidarity for women everywhere.

A new report from the UNH Carsey School of Public Policy says New Hampshire doesn’t necessarily need to increase energy production to grow the economy.

The report challenges a widely held economic outlook in the state that says new sources of energy, like gas pipelines or transmission wires, are needed to bring down the cost of electricity for business to grow.

The Portsmouth City Council is considering a ban on single-use plastic bags – like the kind you get at the supermarket or drug store.

But despite seeking clarification from the Attorney General and Department of Environmental Services, the City of Portsmouth isn’t entirely sure it has the power to regulate plastic bags.

unh.edu

The New Hampshire College and University Council has named prominent Democratic political operative Mike Vlacich as its new president.

Vlacich is best known in New Hampshire political circles as an advisor to the state’s most successful Democratic officeholders. He’s worked for John Lynch, Jeanne Shaheen, and Maggie Hassan.

Last year, he was state director for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

His new role at the College and University Council will begin in June when current president Tom Horgan is set to retire.

Two major school construction projects on the Seacoast will go before voters this month. Similar proposals for both projects have been defeated in the past.

School districts looking to build or renovate have been in a tight spot ever since the state’s school building aid program was put on hold almost a decade ago.

Case in point: the Hampton and Newmarket school districts.

Officials with both districts say the renovations are long overdue and that taxpayer money is being wasted caring for out-of-date school buildings.

Experts hired by the town of Durham are raising concerns about the potential environmental impact of a proposal to bury a power line beneath Great Bay.

The utility company Eversource is hoping to build a 13 mile transmission line on the Seacoast, burying a portion of it beneath Great Bay.

After residents raised concerns about the environmental impact of burying the cable, the town of Durham hired a consultant to review Eversource’s proposal.

Jason Moon for NHPR

A bill to create a commission to investigate a string of pediatric cancer cases on the Seacoast received unanimous support from the House Committee on Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs today. The bill also has the support of Governor Chris Sununu.

The commission would take up the work of a now-defunct taskforce that was investigating the unusually high number of rare pediatric cancer cases on the Seacoast.

With Republicans in full control of New Hampshire’s State House for the first time in more than a decade, Republicans have been moving quickly to enact policies that have long been on their wish list.

That’s been particularly true in public education.

The state senate passed a bill today that would allow school districts to use tax money to send students to qualifying private schools if there is no public school available in the district.

The so-called Croydon Bill was born out of a legal dispute between the Croydon school board and state officials.

Croydon, which does not have a public school for grades 5-12, began paying for a handful of students to attend a private Montessori School in nearby Newport.

A judge ruled that illegal and ordered Croydon to stop the payments.

The state Senate has passed, and then immediately tables, a bill that would increase state funding for school districts that offer full-day kindergarten programs.

Brainlesssteel via Flickr CC

The University of New Hampshire has announced a new scholarship program that will allow some in-state students to attend the university tuition-free.

Beginning next fall, UNH will offer free tuition to New Hampshire students who qualify for federal Pell Grants. The scholarships will go to around 285 incoming freshman and will cost the University roughly $300,000.

The announcement comes as lawmakers in Concord debate how much state support the University system should receive in the next budget.

Ryan Lessard for NHPR

The University of New Hampshire has received a grant to support training for early childhood math teachers in the state.

UNH will receive two-hundred thousand dollars to support an online professional development program for pre-k through third grade math teachers in New Hampshire.

The two-year program includes online coursework, in-person coaching, and an annual conference.

The money comes from the national non-profit 100Kin10 The group’s goal is to train 100,000 K-12 STEM teachers by the year 2021.

A new poll from the University of New Hampshire shows strong support in the state for environmental protections.

Nearly three quarters of New Hampshire residents say environmental protection rules should either be left as they are or strengthened.

That’s according to research from the UNH Carsey School of Public Policy.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Tooth decay is the leading chronic disease for children in the United States. It’s also one of the easiest to prevent. As NHPR’s Jason Moon reports, one dental hygienist on the Seacoast is finding fun ways to drive home that message to kids.

NH Fish and Game Department

A total of eleven snowmobile accidents were to blame for three deaths and multiple injuries across New Hampshire this past weekend. Officials with the state Fish & Game Department say they need more officers to handle the volume of calls.

The accidents ranged from snowmobiles crashing into trees, catching fire, and falling through thin ice.

Three people, including a 15-year-old from New York died after falling through the ice on Lake Winnipesaukee in two separate incidents.

  Officials in Durham are responding to concerns from local businesses about itinerant vendors clogging the town’s sidewalks.

According to town administrator Todd Selig, several businesses in downtown Durham have raised concerns about traveling vendors -- both for what they see as unfair competition from merchants who pay no property taxes, and for pedestrian safety.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  A new poll from the University of New Hampshire shows Granite Staters are split in their opinion of President Donald Trump’s performance in office so far.

Less than a month into Donald Trump’s presidency, 48 percent of New Hampshire residents disapprove of the job he’s doing, while 43 percent say they approve of his performance.

Jason Moon for NHPR

People who live with blindness are used to finding creative ways to do things most of us take for granted. But recently a group of people with vision loss did something that surprised even them -- they went ice-skating.

CREDIT MIKE ROSS, UNH

Officials with the state University System are registering their disappointment with Governor Chris Sununu’s proposal not to increase state funding for New Hampshire’s public universities.

The University System of New Hampshire requested an increase of about 12 million dollars over the next two fiscal years. They said the increase would allow them to keep tuition flat for in-state students.

  Residents in Durham debated whether to declare the community a sanctuary city at a town council meeting Monday night.

Several residents attended the meeting to speak on both sides of the issue.

Those in favor said declaring sanctuary city status would show the town’s support for immigrants in the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive orders on refugees.

But others, including Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig, said it would be a largely symbolic act with potentially dramatic consequences.

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