The following letter was sent today from NEA New Hampshire President Scott McGilvray to the House Education Committee regarding HB 555, a bill that seeks to clarify the ability of public chartered school pupils to participate in programs and co-curricular activities in their resident district.
Who doesn’t want what’s best for the students of New Hampshire? It would be great if every child, regardless of their zip code, had access to small classes, one-on-one interaction with teachers, technology that aided in instruction, clean, safe classrooms, curriculum that prepares them for the 21st century and the opportunity to participate in sports, music, drama, arts, robotics and any other interest that helps round out their educational experience.
Every day, public schools across New Hampshire struggle with how to provide the best possible learning environment and opportunities for their students while balancing shrinking budgets, and dwindling resources. Hard choices are made each day in districts across the Granite State.
This bill speaks to what we all desire – what’s best for kids. We all want every child in New Hampshire to have the opportunity to participate in the co- and extracurricular activities offered by New Hampshire public schools. But it ignores that hard choices public schools have had to make to develop and offer these activities, and the choice families have made to remove their children from these same public schools.
This bill worsens the problem that our public schools face – doing more with less.
A charter school student, when leaving their public school, takes with him or her their state adequacy funds. Funds the public school uses to develop and offer a well –rounded learning experience complete with curriculum and activities that they can afford. Under this bill, the same students who choose to leave their public school, would be given free access to the extra programs they desire with no regard to the cost and sacrifices born by the public school to provide them to the students already attending their school. While everyone agrees we all want what’s best for our students, allowing charter students to leave public school, take adequacy grant money with them, then return only to participate in expensive programs they desire but do not help pay for, is neither sustainable nor fair.
When public schools are fully funded, such a scheme as described in this bill might be feasible. Until then, this bill only serves to diminish the ability of public schools to provide for the needs of New Hampshire’s children.