Incredibly, the average per-pupil cost to educate a child in a New Hampshire public school is about $13,700. For a 20-child class (which is the average class size in the state for grades 5-8), that comes to $274,000. That is for a regular public school. Charter schools manage to educate children for much less.
Charter schools are public schools that are allowed to operate with fewer regulations. They also operate with far less money. They receive about 40 percent of what traditional public schools receive. That could change if a bill given tentative approval by the House last week becomes law.
The bill would raise charter school per-pupil funding to 50 percent of the average per-pupil cost in New Hampshire. Some charter school operators say the extra money — about $1,000 per student — could make the difference between their closure or survival.
The Department of Education has estimated that the increase would cost the state $1.1 million. That makes it even more interesting that the bill sailed through the House last week. In the past, Democrats have resisted spending large sums on charter schools, arguing that the money should go to their teachers union allies in traditional public schools instead.
The fact that charter schools are reaching some kids who struggle in old-fashioned government schools seems to be sinking in.
The bill still has to get through the House Finance Committee, then the Senate, then past the governor. But this first test was encouraging. Maybe there is hope after all for children who are not served well by the industrial-style government school.