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.

Woodley Wonderworks via Flickr CC

The Republican-controlled House Education Committee voted 15 to 4 today to offer state support for full-day kindergarten in New Hampshire for the first time.

Under the current state education funding system, kindergartners are counted at half the rate as other grades, so districts get just half the money to educate kindergartners as they do for students in other grades.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Lawmakers in the House put the brakes on a sweeping school choice bill that would have allowed parents to use public money for private school and homeschool expenses.

The House Education Committee voted to retain the bill, which means it is effectively dead for the current session.

Photo Credit woodleywonderworks via Flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers will debate a controversial education bill Tuesday that would allow parents to use state tax dollars to pay for private school tuition and homeschool expenses.

The bill is testing how far and how fast school choice advocates are willing to go in implementing their agenda.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Last night, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski addressed Republicans at a fundraising dinner on the Seacoast. The event offered the New Hampshire GOP a chance to revel in recent victories and to look toward the future.

The Manchester School Board has approved a new plan for how students will progress from one school to the next. It’s the first step in a broader school redistricting effort in the state’s largest city.

For nearly a decade, city officials in Manchester have been trying to overhaul the system that determines which kids go to which schools.

Last night, the School Board took its first step. It approved a change to the feeder pattern - which determines the path students follow as they move from elementary to middle to high school.

Wednesday night, the Manchester school board will vote on proposals that would change how students move from one school to another.

This overhaul of what's known as the feeder pattern is just one part of a larger redistricting process that the city has been struggling to accomplish for nearly a decade.

NHPR reporter Jason Moon spoke with All Things Considered host Peter Biello about the process, and why it's been so fraught for so long.

Via LinkedIn

Governor Chris Sununu has tapped Drew Cline, a former editorial page editor at the Union Leader newspaper, to join the state board of education.  Cline will replace Tom Raffio, who has been on the board since 2007.

Raffio’s official term has been up since January, but he continued to serve while the governor decided whether to keep or replace him.

Jim Richmond via Flickr Creative Commons

Federal regulators have approved a plan by the owners of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant to temporarily take a backup water cooling tower offline for cleaning.

Seabrook Station is in the midst of a maintenance and refueling period. During this time, the station generates no electricity and employees conduct routine maintenance.

One of those maintenance projects requires taking a water cooling tower offline so that divers can clean out accumulated sediment.

Peter Biello for NHPR

Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut is dismissing claims that he’s seeking more power for his new position.

Earlier this week, Republican State Senator John Reagan introduced an amendment to a bill that would consolidate some authorities in DOE under the commissioner’s office.

Edelblut says he asked for the changes, but he disputes charges from Democrats and the state’s largest teachers union that this is a power grab.

A proposal to reorganize the state department of education is attracting some controversy.

Republican State Senator John Reagan proposed the change in an amendment to an unrelated education bill.

Via PortsmouthWastewater.com

-- Updated 4/13 to include statement from ATSDR --

People exposed to high levels of PFCs at the former Pease Air Force Base are expressing frustration over how long it’s taking a federal agency to investigate the health impacts of the contamination.

After the chemicals were found in a well that supplied drinking water at Pease in 2014, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or ATSDR, was told to investigate.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Employees of businesses damaged by a major fire in Portsmouth will have a chance to connect with unemployment benefits on Wednesday.

The state Department of Resources and Economic Development is hosting what it calls a ‘rapid response jobs event’ after a major fire damaged businesses in downtown Portsmouth earlier this week.

Jason Moon/NHPR

This story includes details from an earlier story.

The air was still thick with smoke this morning as crowds gathered near Market Square to watch fire crews put out the last hot spots in what used to be the State Street Saloon. The building also housed 14 apartment units.

Allegra Boverman

Governor Chris Sununu says he is optimistic about the state budget writing process, despite the recent failure by House Republicans to pass their version of the spending plan.

Earlier this week, conservative Republicans in the House refused to sign off on a budget crafted by GOP leadership. It’s the first time the House has failed to pass a budget in decades.

But Governor Sununu rejected the idea that state Republicans are anything but unified. He said the episode was just one step in the process, which now heads to the Senate.

Jason Moon for NHPR

During a swing through the Seacoast Friday morning, Governor Chris Sununu stopped by the local Opioid Task Force in Dover.

Reflecting on the crisis, he said the state could be doing better with drug prevention programs for kids in school.

“To be blunt, when the 65 year old gray-haired comes in to a bunch of 5th and 6th graders, or even high schoolers…’just say no’. That message ain’t cutting it. No one is listening to that,” said Sununu.

Sununu said the state Department of Education should start playing a role in developing better programs.

Jason Moon for NHPR

When it comes to the ways animals communicate with each other, you might think we’ve got a pretty good handle on their methods. Birds sing, cats purr, cows moo.

But new tools are allowing a group of scientists at UNH to listen in to animal conversations that we didn’t even know were happening before.

Keng Susumpow via Flickr CC

The Portsmouth City Council has voted to postpone debate on a proposed ban on single-use plastic bags in the city. The decision means the ban won’t be voted on anytime soon.

The 6 – 3 vote on Monday night came after concerns were raised about whether the city has the legal authority to enact a ban on plastic bags.

Former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand has announced he is again running for governor. The announcement comes more than a year and a half ahead of Election Day.

Carsey School of Public Policy

New research from the Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH shows the number of part-time employees who want to be working full-time has still not returned to pre-recession levels.

While the overall unemployment number is back to pre-recession levels, the percentage of workers who are part time but would like to be full-time remains higher than before the great recession.

Rebecca Glauber, author of the study, says the findings are an important asterisk to the overall unemployment rate.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Artists, business owners, and elected officials gathered in Concord today to protest President Donald Trump’s plan to cut federal funding for the arts.

Under the president’s proposed budget, the National Endowment for the Arts would be eliminated.

New research from UNH shows close to half of New Hampshire residents think scientists alter their findings to get the answers they want. That’s raising concerns about whether the public will trust advice from public health experts.

The survey from the Carsey School of Public Policy asked New Hampshire residents about the threat posed by the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire are launching a project to evaluate the threat of invasive plant species to the state’s forests.

Non-native species like burning bush, glossy buckthorn, and multiflora rose account for about a third of all plants in the state. Scientists at UNH are now planning a formal assessment of those invasive species and how they affect the state’s forests.

The project will also evaluate what factors make forests more or less susceptible to invasive species.

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.

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