AG explains advice to block new charter schools
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(CONCORD) The New Hampshire Board of Education was acting on advice from the Attorney General’s Office when it decided to block approval of any new charter schools in the Granite State. In a letter to House Education Committee Chairman Michael Balboni, Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards says the Board lacks authority to approve new charter schools if the Legislature has not appropriated enough money to fund them.
Under RSA 198:42, the Legislature voted to allow the Department to spend only 110 percent of budgeted amounts. If the Department sought to expend more, it would need both Fiscal Committee and Governor and Council approval. As the Department does not have such approval, there is no current appropriation. Because there is no current appropriation, the State Board cannot approve charter school applications and bind the State to expend funds absent such approval or a legislative change. As a result, the State Board conditionally denied charter school applications based on funding source issues.”
Charter school supporters point out that the schools applying for approval wouldn’t start operating until the next two-year budget, and the Legislature hasn’t started crafting that budget yet.
The Fiscal Committee and Executive Council last year approved an additional $300,000 to fund charter school payments. Board Chairman Tom Raffio estimates a shortfall of between $4.4 and $.53 million this year for the 17 charter school currently operating in New Hampshire. But those funds would not go to any of the charter schools currently seeking approval.
Edwards’ letter outlines the legal arguments used by the Board of Education, but she declined to provide the Education Committee copies of the actual communication between the BOE and the AG’s Office, citing attorney-client privilege.
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