Dueling Studies Examine Controversial Voucher Bill

Dec 6, 2017

https://reachinghighernh.org/2017/12/06/reaching-higher-nh-study-sb-193-finds-disproportionate-impact-cities-property-poor-districts/
Credit Reaching Higher NH

A new analysis of a controversial school voucher bill says it could cost the state millions of dollars over the next several years.

The bill in question would allow parents to take the state money that normally follows a child to public school, and spend it on other forms of education -- including private schools or home schooling.

If a public school district is set to lose more than a quarter of 1 percent of its total budget as a result, the district would get some of that money reimbursed by the state.

According to a new analysis by the non-profit think tank Reaching Higher, the cost of those reimbursements could add up.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, Dan Vallone explained the group’s findings.

“So if we assume a 3-percent take-up rate every year for five years; year one the stabilization grants the state has to provide is about $2.2 million but by year five, because the grants stack, it’s about $10 million.”

Meanwhile another analysis of the bill, from the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, says the impact of the legislation on public school districts' budgets would be very modest. The Bartlett report finds that if even if 5 percent of students take advantage of the program, school districts would still retain 98.7 percent of their operating budgets. According to the report, that figure does not include the reimbursements some districts would receive.

The bill recently cleared a vote in the House Education Committee. The full House is expected to weigh in early next year. Gov. Chris Sununu says he supports the bill.