To the editor:
At the governor and Executive Council inaugural meeting in Concord, the Council voted to accept and expend funds in the amount of $10,114,000 for New Hampshire Charter School grants from the United States Department of Education. These funds are a part of a five-year grant program in New Hampshire that totals $46,000,000.
New Hampshire’s national recognition as a state that supports innovative practices of competency-based, personalized teaching and learning, as well as home to a coherent system of innovative assessment and accountability, makes it a true testing ground for new school development, particularly for at-risk students. Currently, the state is home to 31 public charter schools. Seven of these schools meet the federal definition for high-quality charter school replication.
The program has set reasonable expansion goals of 20 new public charter schools, seven replications of existing public charter schools, and five expansions of high quality charter schools over the five-year grant period. These expansion goals enable the state to target sub-grantee awards to existing charter schools that have demonstrated success and to expand or replicate the work they are doing in addition to setting a foundation for success for new public charter schools. To assist in these efforts, the program includes two staff positions, a program administrator and a program specialist.
The department currently has five charter schools that are approved by the state Board of Education and may be eligible for startup funding grants of up to $1,500,000 each, four of which are open with students enrolled and one of which is planning to open in the fall of 2021. Grant allocations to those schools in FY 2021 are estimated to be $7,500,000.
Those schools in the Executive Council District 1 area are the Heartwood Public Charter School, K-8 in Lancaster and Northeast Woodlands Public Charter School, K-8 in Conway.
Additionally, the Department of Education currently has 20 chartered public schools that are approved by the state Board of Education that are looking to expand and may be eligible to receive expansion grants of up to $600,000 each. Grant allocations to those schools in FY 2021 are estimated to be $12,000,000, well over the actual grant amount, which would necessitate a competitive process for selection. Those schools in Executive Council District 1 are: Ledyard Charter Public School, 9-12, Lebanon; Northeast Woodlands Charter Public School, K-8 Conway and Robert Frost Charter Public School, K-7, Conway.
As these charter schools expand and programs are implemented, there are other funds set aside for state-wide technical assistance and for administrative services.
In total, the state estimates that the current approved and operating charter school sector in New Hampshire and state set-aside of the grant will utilize $25,740,000 of the $46,000,000 grant.
Joseph D. Kenney
Executive Councilor District 1