In this issue
NH Charter School Association Responds to Misleading Cost Projections
Dear public charter school supporters,
I have obtained a copy of a thoughtful and detailed response by Eileen Liponis, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Public Charter School Association (NHPCSA), to an inquiry from a state legislator asking for clarification on the circulating financial projections for HB 435. With her permission, I have reprinted her response here.
I applaud Ms. Liponis for helping to shed light on these political games that threaten the children of our state. Click here to access a PDF version of her response.
As the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Public Charter School Association, I was asked by the main sponsor of HB 435 in January to work with the Legislative Budget Office (LBO) to accurately project the enrollments of the public charter school students both currently and for 2014-15 for House Finance Division II. He was hopeful that this analysis would prove that the Legislative Intent of SB 539 from 2009 was not being upheld and he was right. (Please see attached document Dollars & Sense)
The LBO and I worked with an internal auditor of the DOE in good faith and produced honest work. The LBO is impartial to politics. When the LBO was contacted by opponents of HB 435 to project out further than 2015 they declined saying it was too speculative and irresponsible to pretend to know what schools would be authorized by the State Board of Education and what their enrollments would be.
When the outrageous enrollment projections out to 2018 were brought to my attention last Friday, we were having our annual Sharing of Best Practices Conference. I had the opportunity to ask all of the NH public charter schools if they were contacted by the DOE for projections past 2014-15. They all said no one from the the DOE had contacted them for projected enrollments.
Further analysis of these inflated financial projections led me to uncover these misrepresentations which total at least $100 million from 2014 - 2018 or $58 over the next three years:
1) Inclusion of VLACS inflates financial projections done by special interest individual adds $45 million from 2014 - 2018 or $30 over the next three years.
The gross attempt to manipulate the financial costs associated with HB 435 starts with the inclusion of the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) in the cost of HB 435. VLACS is not included in the bill's funding formula. VLACS was never included by the bill's sponsor in the original or amended bill. "the provisions of the memorandum of understanding between the department of education and the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School shall remain unchanged."
2) The financial projections were not based on the bill as amended adding $9 million from 2014 - 2018 or $6 million over the next three years.
The bill was amended to reflect the legislative intent of SB 539 from 2009. (Please see the attached document entitled "Dollars and Sense") When introduced, SB 539 had charter school funding at 46.4% of the state average. Neglecting to change to 47.5% of the most recent state average but using the original 50% adds another $8.97 million to these erroneous financials.
3) Adding 11 new schools that would open in 2015 is impossible and adds $38 million from 2014 - 2018 or $22 million over the next three years.
There is only enough money left in the Federal Charter Startup Grant for 3 more new schools. Of the 11 schools supposedly in the pipeline we know of 6 that haven't been active in over a year and have lost interest and 2 that we have never heard of.
4) Many of the projections go beyond the enrollment cap that exists in many of the charters submitted and approved by the DOE adding millions more.
None of the public charter schools were contacted and the projections do not reflect the normal growth. In fact one of the schools is at capacity at 80 students in its permanent facility yet the projections have them adding 60 students. The DOE knows this building was just purchased by the community for the school and they are unable to grow. That error alone adds $419,400 for just one school.
Please find attached the documents that the sponsor of HB 435 had prepared by the Legislative Budget Office that proves that the money is in the budget line for us and disputes the arguments our opponents are circulating. Please do not be manipulated by the lies that would deprive the children of your constituents the funding as originally intended by SB 539 in 2009 when the Democratic Party held both the House and the Senate but came together in a bipartisan effort to fund the only public education options offered in the state of New Hampshire.
Thank you for your service and commitment to work in good faith for your constituents.
Eileen Groll Liponis
The New Hampshire Public Charter School Association
The first file: "LBO Charter per pupil aid vs. State average"
This shows how the legislative intent of SB 539 in 2009 has not been upheld. It shows how public charter per pupil aid has lost ground when compared to the historic state average. It started at 46.4% and has fallen to 40.9%. This also disputes the majority report that claims the increase in funding would be from 30% to 47.5%.
The second file: "LBO district adequacy surplus and declining enrollment"
This disputes the argument that there is not enough money for public district schools when in fact there is an upcoming surplus of $6m in FY 2014 and $11.8m in FY 2015. It also shows the declining enrollment of around 3,000 students per year from the public district schools. That far exceeds total charter enrollment in any one year which proves charters are not stealing district students; the entire public student population is declining.
The third file: "LBO HB 435 no new money needed still produces surplus"
Here it clearly shows that the implementation of HB 435 as amended will not need any new money and still produces a modest surplus.
The fourth file is a pie chart which illustrates just how small a portion our funding is when compared to total adequacy. I think it is effective to show them how little a piece we are talking about here.
The fifth file "Dollars and Sense" shows how we have not kept pace with the legislative intent and how much public district funding has increased.
Amend RSA 194-B:11, I(b) to read as follows:
(b) For any chartered public school authorized by the state board of education pursuant to RSA 194-B:3-a, the state shall pay [tuition pursuant to RSA 198:40-a plus an additional grant of $2,000] 47.5 percent of the most recently available average cost per pupil for public school pupils, including any differentiated aid for which a pupil is eligible, directly to the chartered public school for each pupil who is a resident of this state in attendance at such chartered public school. For the purpose of the calculation made pursuant to this subparagraph, no kindergarten pupil shall count for more than 1/2 day attendance per calendar year, and the provisions of the memorandum of understanding between the department of education and the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School shall remain unchanged.
|Examining the Need for HB 435
|Public Education Funding & Context
As you can see by the chart above, public charter school students represent only about 2% of total state adequacy aid. The vast majority of funding (about 98% or $936 million) goes directly to our traditional public schools. District schools do the incredibly difficult work of addressing the needs of the vast majority of students. Children are not widgets however and even in the best schools there will be some students whose needs are not met. Public charter schools complement our district system by providing a public education option for students who require a unique learning environment, curriculum, or instructional method.