Charter Schools

New Hampshire's Charter Schools: A Growing Choice

Oct 26, 2015
Jaddie Dodd / Flickr/CC

New Hampshire now has 25 of these alternative public schools, after a spate of rapid growth. We’ll look at some of the themes raised in NHPR’s recent series, A Growing Choice.  These include how charter schools are funded, who their students are, and what overall role they play in public education. 

Guests:

Michael Brindley for NHPR

Many charter schools rely on parent volunteers to fill gaps due to lack of funding, whether it’s filling in at the front desk or helping teachers in the classroom.

But at some charter schools, volunteering isn’t optional.

At Surry Village Charter School, families are required to spend 20 hours a year volunteering at the school. That’s according to the “parent participation” section of the school’s parent handbook.

Photo via Facebook

What is a charter school?

Here is the definition and breakdown as outlined on the New Hampshire Department of Education website:

“Charter schools are public and tuition-free schools. The focus of each public charter school is unique and based on the educational needs and interests of a particular community.

Michael Brindley for NHPR

  As charter schools continue to expand in New Hampshire, one thing is clear – how to deal with special education is a big sticking point.

Michael Brindley for NHPR

New Hampshire has lost out on a federal grant that would have helped create more charter schools in the state.

The state Department of Education had applied for a $5.4 million, five-year grant.

The state was told Monday it was not one of the eight states selected by the US Department of Education to receive new grants.

polariseducationalfoundation.org

New Hampshire is running out of federal money that helps new charter schools with start-up costs.

The state Department of Education has about $600,000 left in its federal start-up grant for new charter schools.

“That is about one charter school. Depending on the size of the school, it could be two,” says Caitlin Davis with the DOE.

Seacoast Charter School

An Arts and Music Charter School on the Seacoast that had faced closure is now likely to stay open.

The Seacoast Charter School has been trying to raise money to stay open since it learned its current lease from Sanborn Regional School District in Kingston wouldn’t be renewed.  The school needed to raise $125,000 by the end of May to lease a new space in Stratham. 

Seacoast Charter School Principal Peter Durso says the school met that goal through the efforts of teachers, parents, and some deep pocketed youngsters.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Charter school advocates are hopeful this could be the year the legislature passes a bill aimed at increasing their funding.

Dozens of charter school students packed the halls of the New Hampshire State House, Wednesday, to push for a bill that would increase state funding for charters by more than $2 million dollars per year.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

This is the second of two stories about  New Hampshire’s Virtual Learning Academy Charter School, (VLACS) New Hampshire’s statewide online charter school. To read the first, click here.

Pauline Landrigan, an English teacher with VLACS, is touching base with one of her students, Siri Condike.

“Are you going to be together with family in a couple of days?” asks Landrigan.

“No actually I’m going to be working,” Condike responds.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Nearly every school in the state has students like Tristan Quismundo. He goes to high school in Londonderry and failed English his sophomore and junior years.

“I kind of just get distracted, and wander off think about other things, ‘cause I don’t really find English literature that interesting.”

But as of 2008, students like Quismundo have another option. Now he’s a senior, and instead of just making another go at the classroom, he signed up for VLACS, the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School.

Four New Charter Schools Set To Open In New Hampshire

Aug 25, 2014
Mountain Village Charter School

Most students across New Hampshire return to school this week, including students at Mountain Village Charter School in Plymouth. The school is one of the state’s four new charter schools opening this fall.

The actual building for Mountain Village Charter School is still under construction. So for the first week, the school’s 38 elementary students will be outside.

Teachers lead the students through a Swahili song and have them bark like dogs - mostly as a way to start the school year on a fun note.

alamosbasement / Flickr/CC

The original legislation to allow charters schools in New Hampshire passed way back in 1995, but it would take another ten years before the first of these publically funded independent learning facilities was opened.  Since then charter school have had their ups and downs in the state: many had a hard time getting off the ground, a few had to close their doors, some have been criticized for not being alternative enough from their public school counterparts. There was even a moratorium on new facilities for two years.

@BillDuncan / Twitter

  Gov. Maggie Hassan's nomination of longtime education activist Bill Duncan to the New Hampshire Board of Education is drawing fire from supporters of charter schools and an education tax credit law.

Senate Republican Leader Jeb Bradley says Monday that Duncan can't serve as an unbiased administrator of programs he spent years trying to dismantle. Duncan is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the business tax credit that gives scholarships to students who attend private and religious schools.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

The organizers of several charter schools opening this fall in New Hampshire say they’ve learned the hard way that finding a location is easier said than done.

House lawmakers have passed a proposal to boost state aid for New Hampshire’s charter schools.

House lawmakers are scheduled to take up a bill Wednesday to increase annual per pupil funding for New Hampshire’s nearly two dozen charter schools.

Sam Evans-Brown / Data: Department of Education

Today the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed a budget that doesn’t fund $2.5 million for new charter schools. If that policy stands it would be mean a de facto, two-year moratorium on charter schools. It’s a move that was met with surprise and confusion by charter school advocates. But to understand the decision takes knowing something about the long, political history of charter schools.

Redjar / Flickr Creative Commons

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has passed a bill that would end what has been called a moratorium on new charter schools. The bill still has a way to go before it is law, but charters in the pipeline could still open in time for next school year.

In her State of the State Address, Governor Hassan proposed to restore some funding to these alternative public schools, but under certain conditions, including more of a focus on traditionally underserved students.  Now educators both within and outside charter schools are looking at what this means…we’ll find out more, and if  lawmakers in the House and State Senate agree with the Governor.

Guests:

New Charter schools hoping to open next fall will likely have to wait a while longer before they can submit their applications to the state. A proposal to fix the charter school funding problem was delayed in the legislative shuffle.

According to the Attorney General’s office, the Department of Education can’t approve any new charter schools until a budget has been passed. That means a number of schools that were hoping to open in the fall, are hanging in limbo: unsure if they’ll have time to apply

For the past few months a number of proposed charter schools in New Hampshire have been in a sort of limbo, unable to formally apply to the state because of funding concerns in the Board of Education. Today the legislative fiscal committee took a step that might move the issue forward.

Brady Carlson: So Sam, for folks who haven’t been paying attention, bring us up to speed on the charter school situation.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Charter School advocates and organizers packed the room for today’s meeting of the State Board of Education, to ask them rescind the moratorium on New Charter school approvals.

Several of the schools whose applications were denied because of a state budget shortfall were on hand, saying the moratorium was poorly timed.

Schools like the Gate City Charter say that this will keep them from opening on time.

Cevasco: My name is Karin Cevasco, and we are here to compel you to accept our application.

flikr Creative Commons / hdes.copeland

Last month New Hampshire Charter Schools in development got some very bad news: the board of education voted that they would no longer be approving new applications. Their reason: the state is all out of funding for such schools.

Charter school advocates blasted the decision, saying it made no sense, because the new schools would fall under next biennium’s budget. Wednesday the Attorney General’s office told lawmakers if they want to get money to those schools, they’ll have to change the laws.

flickr

The chairman of the state board of education says it’s likely the moratorium on approval of new charter schools will be lifted later this year.

Education officials have been saying for the past two weeks that the state is $4.9 million dollars short on funding for charter schools that have already been approved this year. But speaking today on NHPR’s The Exchange, chairman of the finance committee Ken Weyler said…

Weyler: I am pretty sure that the money is there.

The New Hampshire Board of Education recently announced a moratorium on aid to state-approved charter schools, a stunning development for their supporters. The state says there’s just no money there, raising questions about the future of this alternative source of public education in the Granite State. We'll look at what this may mean for the future of charter schools in New Hampshire.

Guests

Since the state received eleven and a half million dollars in federal money for charter schools last year, there has been a flurry of activity, including in Nashua where two charter schools are in the works. Meanwhile, though many former foes now support charter schools, questions remain on such issues as admission policies, accountability, and how teacher unions fit in.  Today we'll look at how charter schools are doing and where they're heading. 

Guests