Education

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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.

About 1,000 New Hampshire students who apply to Keene State College and Plymouth State University are not offered admission — and now, those two institutions are offering them alternative pathways through future enrollment.

The Public Promise initiative provides paths including associate degree programs, Dual Admission options and targeted coursework. Once completed, the options would allow students to transfer into the institution of their choice.

Public Promise will start in May with outreach to applicants wanting to attend college in fall 2017.

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.

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.

www.harriman.com

  Nashua's Board of Education approved a budget this week that includes full-day kindergarten at all of the city’s schools. Currently, full-day kindergarten is offered at six the city’s twelve elementary schools.

Its expansion has been championed by Jim Donchess, the city’s mayor.

Nashua’s school budget, including funds for full day kindergarten, will now go to the Board of Alderman and then the Board of Education.

About three quarters of towns and cities in New Hampshire offer full day kindergarten.

 Below story corrects information in an earlier post found here

WoodleyWonderWorks; Flickr

This post has been corrected and revised to reflect the following:  The House Finance Committee recently approved funding for a position to work with the N.H. Dept. of Education to fulfill aspects of the state's new "Dyslexia Law."   The position was not originally in the Governor's version of the budget.  

The full House votes on this next week, and, after that, the state senate will makes its own budgetary decision on the position.  For more, read here.

Once described as " word blindness," dyslexia affects a person's ability to read accurately and fluently. It's surprisingly common, but early screening and intervention can make a major difference.  The new law requires school districts do just that.   

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.

Michael Brindley for NHPR

State Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut was confirmed for a full, four-year term by the Executive Council Wednesday. Edelblut had earlier been appointed to fill out the remainder of the term of his predecessor, former commissioner Virginia Barry.

Edelblut was approved 3 to 2, in a party-line vote of the five-member council.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Compared with the University System of New Hampshire, which was flat funded under the budget Republican Governor Chris Sununu presented earlier this month, the community college system did pretty well.

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.

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.

Michael Brindley for NHPR

It’s been a busy year for Frank Edelblut. First, he rose from political unknown to near-upset in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Now, he’s poised to become the state’s next education commissioner. 

Edelblut’s background and philosophy would mark a significant break from his recent predecessors in that job.

playground
Brady Carlson / NHPR

Results from a new survey of public schools in New Hampshire shows that most elementary students aren’t receiving as much physical education as they should.

The survey of public school P.E. teachers was conducted by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

It found that none of the elementary school students in the schools who responded to the survey received the recommended average of at least 150 minutes of physical education each week.

Governor Chris Sununu has nominated former political rival Frank Edelblut as commissioner of the state Department of Education.

The announcement was a brief, unceremonious item on the Executive Council’s agenda Wednesday morning as Governor Chris Sununu read off a list of nominations.

“For the Commissioner of the state of the New Hampshire Department of Education I nominate Frank Edelblut of Wilton New Hampshire.”

But the choice signals a big shift in priorities for the state agency.

Some call it the toughest job in the state of New Hampshire: superintendent of the Manchester School District. To know why, it helps to understand just how different the district is from most in the state.

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