HB 474:
"AN ACT relative to grounds for denial of a chartered public school application."

additional commentary by Rep. Timothy Horrigan; December 30, 2015

This one got some publicity.






AN ACT relative to grounds for denial of a chartered public school application.

SPONSORS: Rep. Horrigan, Straf 6; Rep. Gile, Merr 27

COMMITTEE: Education


This bill deletes a provision which prohibited the state board of education from denying a chartered public school application based on lack of state funding.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.




In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Fifteen

AN ACT relative to grounds for denial of a chartered public school application.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 Chartered Public Schools; Chartered Public School Approval by State Board of Education. Amend RSA 194-B:3-a, IV to read as follows:

IV. The state board of education shall either approve or deny an application using reasonable discretion in the assessment of the elements set forth in RSA 194-B:3, II, (a)-(bb) and (dd). [Lack of state funding alone shall not constitute grounds for the denial of an application.] Approval of an application constitutes the granting of charter status and the right to operate as a chartered public school. The state board of education shall notify all applicants of its decision in writing, and shall include in any notice of denial a written statement specifying any areas deemed deficient, the reasons for the denial, and explaining that the applicant may reapply under RSA 194-B:3 or under this section in a subsequent year.

2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

Here is my written testimony:

Testimony in Favor of HB 474
"AN ACT relative to grounds for denial of a chartered public school application."

Rep. Timothy Horrigan (Strafford 6); February 20, 2015

Chartered public schools can be approved either by a local school district (pursuant to RSA 194-B:3) or by the state board of education (pursuant to RSA 194-B:3-a.) RSA 194-B:3 is eight years older and much more detailed than RSA 194-B:3-a, but every existing charter school but one was approved under the latter procedure. (The one exception is the PACE Career Academy in Allenstown.)

During the 2013 budget process, as one small part of the budget trailer bill HB 2, the State Senate added a stipulation that "Lack of state funding alone shall not constitute grounds for the denial of an application" to RSA 194-B:3-a:IV. This sentence survived the conference committee process, and I was one of the 346 representatives who voted for the committee of conference report. The addition of that one sentence was an error which I say we should correct in 2015 by passing HB 474.

RSA 194-B:3-a:IV is a subparagraph dealing with the procedures used by the board of education for approving or denying an application. This is inconsistent with the procedures used by local school districts, who are still allowed under RSA 194-B:3 to reject an application simply for lack of funding. Moreover, this is inconsistent with how the state government approaches every other program and every activity, no matter how worthy. In my opinion, if there isn't enough money available to do something effectively, that is reason enough to refuse to do it. That goes for charter schools just like any other government program.

The revised law encourages the board of education to approve charter schools which don't have enough funding. That is not a good thing, (Most of the existing schools are in fact severely underfunded.) There seems to be a lingering misconception that large sums of non-tax money are going to flow into the coffers of these new public schools which spend taxpayer money with only limited oversight and which are exempt from most of the rules which apply to regular public schools. No such money is flowing in, aside from some very limited grants. No school district would ever build a new school, or even add a new program to an existing school, without a long-term plan to pay for it. The same should go for new chartered public schools: a new charter school should be authorized only when its founders can identify reliable and adequate long-term funding sources. Unfortunately, the only reliable source for funding most (if not all) proposed charter schools is the state education fund, which is severely limited.

2015 Bills I Sponsored or Co-Sponsored

2016 Bills I Am Sponsoring or Co-Sponsoring

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