Compulsory-Age Plan Defeated in Session
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2005 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The precollegiate education spending figures do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
Lawmakers in New Hampshire failed to approve a popular proposal by Gov. John Lynch that would have effectively raised the minimum dropout age to 18.
Mr. Lynch had called for raising the compulsory attendance age in his State of the State Address in January. Under the proposal that went to the legislature, students younger than 18 still could have left school—but only after working out an alternative plan with district officials for completing their education.
The Senate approved the bill on a bipartisan vote. In the House, lawmakers voted at the last minute to table the bill to study the kinds of education alternatives the state had to offer. But supporters of the Democratic governor, who is making his first bid for re-election this year, said the proposal fell victim to partisan politics. Both legislative houses are under Republican control.
Lawmakers approved a measure allowing the state to finance charter schools directly, rather than by funneling money through school districts.
The measure responded to a funding dispute that resulted in the 2005 closing of the state’s first charter school, the Franklin Career Academy in Franklin, N.H.
In New Hampshire, as in many other states, charter schools are public schools that are allowed to operate outside of district control. The Franklin school, which served struggling students in grades 7-12, shut its doors after local school districts declined to pass on its per-pupil funds from the state.
At the same time, lawmakers turned back a school choice proposal that had gained momentum in the legislature. The bill called for giving tax breaks to businesses that donate money to organizations that provide scholarships for private school. It passed the Senate and stalled in the House.
Because the state is in the middle of its two-year budget cycle, legislators did not take up other school funding measures.
Vol. 25, Issue 43, Page 24