Litchfield School Board

A letter to our NH State Representatives on HB20:

Litchfield School Board

SAU 27

1 Highlander Court

Litchfield NH, 03052

January 31, 2021

HB20

Dear State Representatives and House Education Committee,

As elected members of the Litchfield School Board, we write to voice our opposition to HB20. While we strongly support and strive to provide diverse educational opportunities, we strongly feel that HB20 would greatly decrease needed state funds to public schools with unknown or minimal benefit to students. Our greatest concerns are funding and student outcomes. Funding: Fiscal analysis of a similar bill, SB 193 in 2018, conducted by the Office of Legislative Budget Assistant indicated SB 193 would have cost New Hampshire taxpayers tens of millions of dollars over the next decade, while local school districts have lost millions of dollars in state aid. There is no requirement that the voucher be used for tuition at a NH-based school. New Hampshire taxpayers could be subsidizing out-of-state private schools. Creating a scholastic oversight office, which would keep 10% of funds allocated, is an incredibly inefficient use of tax dollars for education. HB 20 provides little public oversight for state funds. There is minimal financial audit requirement for the scholarship organization to ensure that they are appropriately using public funds. Further, recipients are permitted to roll funding over from year to year, a provision which public schools are not permitted. As a school district we are accountable to the NHDOE and our local taxpayers for every penny in our budget. Student Outcomes: HB 20 does not contain any protections for students with disabilities or any of the protected classes. These vouchers can be used to pay tuition to private schools that are not obligated to follow anti-discrimination laws. Students with disabilities waive their rights under federal and state disability laws, including the right to an IEP, the right to services, and the right to a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. Participating students are not required to take, or submit, the statewide assessment that public and charter school students are required to take. There is no requirement that participating students take any assessment of any kind, in order to ensure that public dollars are going towards programs that provide the opportunity for an adequate education.Voucher programs have been shown to correlate with negative student outcomes. Long-term studies of voucher programs have shown that participants in voucher programs have significantly lower math and reading scores than those who do not, and that those dips persist for years after the initial study. Other, short-term studies by independent research organizations and universities suggest that voucher programs hurt, or have an insignificant impact, on student outcomes. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3376230&fbclid=IwAR2wbsHBPUFHFqFnhSa5OKPHRplGiEfJTeFn1hYZcKoy6rxvdRIFOU2jxG4

New Hampshire public PreK-12 schools are ranked 3rd in the nation. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rankings/education?fbclid=IwAR3CV_rgZjVz0kiysDOeGnKxyw0h7I1o6WiwNBCy-C3iNGz8i12uecC-xMQ

We are a small district that provides above-average outcomes with less than average per pupil spending. Imagine what we could accomplish with state-level leadership that supported our public schools, rather than decreasing funding and support in the name of School Choice. School choice will only ever work if we fully invest in a robust and quality education system that is equipped to deal with the diversity of needs that is the tapestry of New Hampshire. Please oppose HB 20 and support legislation that enables our school district to do what we do best – meeting the educational, emotional, physical needs of every child.

Respectfully,

Litchfield School Board Brian Bourque, Chair

Christina Harrison, Vice Chair

Robert Meyers, Member

Elizabeth MacDonald, Member

Tara Hershberger, Member

HB20 can be found here: