Two bills expanding school choice in New Hampshire have passed the state House and head for consideration by the Senate, reports the AP.
The state’s school choice program already allows eligible families to receive the state’s share of per-pupil funds – around $4,500 – to use on educational expenses, including private school tuition.
Testimony on the bills was heard by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.
One bill raises the household income limits for applicants from 300% of the federal poverty level to 350%, which the AP reports would amount to $105,000 for a family of four. The other bill would allow students in foster care, facing homelessness or facing bullying to participate, regardless of household income.
“We’d like to raise this incrementally over the years in front of us to get to a level where we’re going to support all parents who are looking for this choice program,” said Rep. Rick Ladd, R-Haverhill.
The bills’ opponents, including Democratic lawmakers and teachers’ unions, claim the school choice program takes funding away from public schools. But supporters argue the taxpayer dollars should follow the students, not support a single mode of education.
Kate Baker, executive director of Children’s Scholarship Fund, which helps administer the funds, supports the increase in light of some 100 families who were turned down last year but would be eligible with the new income cap.
“I think by increasing the income limit to 350 (percent), you’re conservatively catching the inflationary increases that we’ve seen, in addition to providing an opportunity for families who are just a little over the income limit but still may be in high need,” she told the AP.