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Charter schools tax break denied in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

May 11. 2016 11:51PM
Nashua aldermen have decided not to provide tax breaks to charter schools in the city. (Kimberly Houghton)

NASHUA — A proposal to offer tax breaks to charter schools in the city was narrowly rejected by aldermen on Tuesday.

“I don’t want us to become a magnet for charter schools, which I think are a drain to public education,” said Alderman Ben Clemons of Ward 6.

Clemons alleged that charter schools siphon money from the school district for the benefit of a few.

Alderman Ken Siegel, Ward 9, argued that charter schools provide alternatives for families and help reduce classroom sizes in the public school system. If tax relief is provided to charter schools, those facilities would benefit directly and it would allow for a better educational environment overall, said Siegel.

The Board of Aldermen was split on the proposal, but ultimately voted against the ordinance with a vote of seven members in support and eight members opposed. After voting against the proposal, the matter was then tabled to allow aldermen to revisit the idea in the future, if warranted.

The proposed ordinance would have limited the city from appraising qualified chartered public school property at no more than 10 percent of its market value. If the school leases property from a landlord, the tax break was intended to assist the school financially.

The Academy for Science and Design, a charter school in Nashua, currently pays $80,000 a year in property taxes. The proposal would have reduced that amount to $8,000, according to officials.

“The charter schools do an excellent job,” said Alderman David Schoneman, Ward 3, a supporter of the tax break initiative. He questioned why some city officials felt that having more charter schools in Nashua would be a bad idea.

“All the students would find the education that they need,” he said, contending it is a good financial investment.

Others disagreed.

As the city faces a tight budget, Alderman-at-Large Michael O’Brien said the idea of making an exemption in taxes may not be wise.

“I don’t think this is the time in this type of economic climate,” said O’Brien.

The proposed tax breaks would have totaled about $145,000 for the existing charter schools in Nashua. However, some aldermen stressed that the charter schools are already receiving public funding.

Under the proposed ordinance, charter schools would have applied to the city, the city would have then issued the tax breaks and the schools would have then expected to receive that money back from their landlord if they rent or lease the space.

Education Politics Nashua

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