EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

February 6, 2013

Bill provides boost to charter schools

Charter schools could see state funding hike

Lawmakers are considering a proposal that offers hope for charter schools struggling to fund an alternative education for New Hampshire students.

Rep. Kenneth Weyler, R-Kingston, appeared before the House Education Committee in Concord yesterday to outline his bill that would provide an additional $1,100 per charter school pupil.

House Bill 435 comes in the wake of a statewide moratorium on the acceptance of applications for new charter schools because of a lack of funding.

But state Board of Education Chairman Thomas Raffio said the 17 operating charter schools and an 18th school, which will open in Derry this fall, will continue to receive funding.

There are several other proposed charter schools, but no applications will be accepted unless the state can come up with an additional $1.8 million, he said.

Before yesterday's hearing, Weyler said he will do what he can to help charter schools, saying they offer parents the option of deciding what is the best education for their children.

"It gives them choice," he said. "I don't think they are adequately funded and I'm trying to do something about it."

Charter schools tend to offer a smaller, more hands-on educational environment than traditional public schools. They also often provide a specialty, such as a focus on the arts or science."

"That's the sort of thing I want to encourage," Weyler said.

He hopes his colleagues in the Legislature feel the same away.

Weyler said his bill, if passed, would provide a substantial boost to charter schools having a tough time making ends meet.

Although considered public schools, charter schools are not fully funded by the state. The schools must pay for the remainder by charging families tuition and holding fundraisers to make up the difference.

Weyler said charter schools receive just under $5,500 per student, but the statewide cost per pupil is slightly more than $13,000.

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