Manchester Mayor Pans School Choice Bill, Education Chair Says Cost Minimal

Jan 16, 2018

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig testifies before the House Finance Committee on Tuesday.
Credit Jason Moon for NHPR

A controversial school choice bill drew a large crowd at a public hearing before lawmakers Tuesday.

The bill would allow some parents to take their children out of public school and then spend the state tax dollars that would have followed that child on other forms of education, including private school tuition.  

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig was among those who spoke against the measure.

“The bill before you today, if passed, will cause harm to the Manchester school district, our 14,000 students, and parents like me who pay taxes and want the best opportunities for our children.”

Those in favor of these proposed "education freedom savings accounts" argued it would give an option to parents who feel public schools aren’t a good fit for their children.

Drew Cline is president of the Josiah Bartlett Center and chairman of the state Board of Education. He told lawmakers the financial impact of the bill on public schools would be minimal.

“Based on realistic projections of a first-year impact, school districts in New Hampshire on average would keep 99.8 percent of their operating budgets.”

Members of the House Finance Committee will decide sometime over the next few weeks whether to recommend the bill. The bill will then head to a vote before the full House of Representatives.