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House OKs bill focusing on charter school applications

CONCORD — The House on Wednesday passed bills that would tighten the application process for public charter schools and remove a restriction on how many students can be moved out of a public school to attend a charter school.

House Bill 1449, which passed 180-112, lays out requirements for the mission statement of all charter school applications.

It requires a prospective school to make, in its mission statement, a “clear and documented case that the proposed school will serve a student population in an area where charter schools are not present or reasonably accessible, or will meet a need not currently being met in the school district” in the area.
The application must demonstrate that the school’s academic program “will vary from those of other schools in the district” by outlining specific new “innovations” and clear descriptions of academic programs for areas of specialization.
In a key provision, the bill increases to 50 percent of the overall application the weight given to the mission statement by the state Department of Education.

Rep. Glenn Cordelli, R-Tuftonboro, said the bill is well-intentioned, but he warned that increasing the weight of the mission statement to 50 percent of the overall application “will make it more difficult for the Department of Education to evaluate” the applications.
But Rep. Anne Grassie, D-Rochester, speaking in support of the bill, said it would “strengthen the charter school application process and will protect taxpayers from the unnecessary expense of duplication with our public schools.”
House Bill 1392, which passed on a vote of 191-99, would remove the restriction in current law that limit the number of students who can be moved out of a public school to attend a public charter school in any school district to 10 percent per grade level.

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