New Hampshire

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New Hampshire

1996
Year Charter School Law Was Enacted
26
Estimated Number of Charter Schools in 2016-17
3,300
Estimated Number of Charter School Students in 2016-17
151
out of
240
Total Score

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While New Hampshire’s law contains a cap that allows for adequate growth and provides a fair amount of autonomy and accountability to charter public schools, the state’s authorizing options (local school districts and the state board of education) have been unreliable and the law provides inequitable funding to charter schools.

Potential areas for improvement in New Hampshire’s charter school law include providing additional authorizing options for charter applicants, providing adequate authorizer funding, ensuring equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities, and strengthening accountability for full-time virtual charter schools.

Component Scores

Are there caps on the growth of charter schools in this state?

New Hampshire law does not place any caps on charter school growth.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
1A
No numeric or geographic limits are placed on the number of charter public schools or students.
No
1B
If caps exist, there is room for growth.

Are a variety of charter schools allowed?

New Hampshire law allows new start-ups and public school conversions.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
2A
New startups.
Yes
2B
Public school conversions.

Are non-district authorizers available to which charter applicants may directly apply?

In one route, New Hampshire law provides that the local school board and the state board of education approve the application. It also allows applicants denied by the local school board to appeal to the state board. In a second route, New Hampshire law allows applicants to apply directly to the state board of education.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
3A
The state allows an applicant anywhere in the state to apply directly to a non-district authorizer(s).

Is an authorizer and overall program accountability system required?

To become an authorizer, New Hampshire law requires the local school district to vote to participate, but it does not require local school boards to affirm their interest in chartering to the state.
While the law does not require the legislature and governor to regularly review the performance of the state board of education as an authorizer, they can do so at any time. In addition, the ability of the state board of education to continue authorizing can be removed by the legislature and governor (the entities that gave it that authority).
By statute, the state board of education must convene one or more working committees to study and make recommendations regarding the implementation and effectiveness of charter schools, with such recommendations provided to a joint legislative oversight committee. In turn, the joint legislative oversight committee must prepare an annual report regarding any recommended legislative changes.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Some
4A
Registration process for school boards to affirm their interest in authorizing.
N/A
4B
Application process for other eligible authorizing entities (except a state charter schools commission).
No
4C
Authorizer submission of annual report.
Some
4D
The ability for the state to conduct a review of an authorizer’s performance.
Some
4E
The ability for the state to sanction an authorizer for poor performance, including suspending an authorizer’s authority to approve new schools.
Yes
4F
Periodic formal evaluation of overall state charter school program and outcomes.

Is there adequate authorizer funding?

New Hampshire law does not include any of the model law's provisions for adequate authorizer funding.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
5A
A uniform statewide formula that guarantees annual authorizer funding that is not subject to annual legislative appropriations.
No
5B
Requirement to publicly report detailed authorizer expenditures.
No
5C
Separate contract for any services purchased from an authorizer by a school.
No
5D
Prohibition on authorizers requiring schools to purchase services from them.

Are there transparent charter application, review, and decisionmaking processes?

New Hampshire law includes a long list of items that must be included in an application. It also contains additional application elements specific to conversion schools and specific when using educational service providers.
Statute and regulations require a thorough evaluation of each application including an in-person interview and a public meeting.

New Hampshire law requires that application decisions be made at a public meeting, with written reasons specifying areas deemed deficient provided for denials.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
6A
Application elements for all schools.
Yes
6B
Additional application elements specific to conversion schools.
Yes
6C
Additional application elements specific to using educational service providers.
No
6D
Additional application elements specific to replications.
Yes
6E
Requirement for thorough evaluation of each application, including an in-person interview and a public meeting.
No
6F
Application approval criteria.
Yes
6G
All charter approval or denial decisions made in a public meeting with authorizers stating reasons for denials in writing.

Are performance-based charter contracts required?

New Hampshire law requires the use of a charter contract and provides a detailed list of required contractual items that focus on the roles and responsibilities of the school but do not cover the roles and responsibilities of the authorizer.
It requires the contract to include academic and other learning goals and objectives as well as achievement tests to be used to measure pupil academic and other goal achievement for specific subject areas.

New Hampshire law provides that the initial charter contract is for a five-year term.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
7A
Being created as a separate document from the application and executed by the governing board of the charter school and the authorizer.
Some
7B
Defining the roles, powers, and responsibilities for the school and its authorizer.
Yes
7C
Defining academic, financial, and operational performance expectations by which the school will be judged based on a performance framework.
Yes
7D
Providing an initial term of five operating years.

Are there comprehensive charter school monitoring and data collection processes?

New Hampshire law requires each charter school’s board of trustees to report to their authorizer at least quarterly, for public information purposes, the progress of achieving the charter’s stated goals and their finances.
New Hampshire law requires all charter schools to complete an annual financial audit and submit the result to the state board (similar to all school districts). In addition, the law requires that charter schools be subject to a first year program audit by the state department of education or its agent and to a program audit by the state department of education at least once every three years thereafter.

Statute also includes many monitoring responsibilities for authorizers. Statute requires the state board to give notice of any concerns and allows it to require the implementation of a remedial plan and to place schools on probationary status for up to one year.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
8A
Required annual school performance reports.
Yes
8B
Financial accountability for charter schools (e.g., generally accepted accounting principles, independent annual audit reported to authorizer).
Yes
8C
Authorizer authority to conduct oversight activities.
Yes
8D
Authorizer notification to its schools of perceived problems, with opportunities to remedy such problems.
Yes
8E
Authorizer authority to take appropriate corrective actions or exercise sanctions short of revocation.
No
8F
Authorizer may not request duplicative data submission from its charter schools and may not use performance framework to create cumbersome reporting requirements.

Are there clear processes for renewal, nonrenewal, and revocation decisions?

Regulations require the charter school board of trustees to apply for renewal no later than one year before the original charter is set to expire and require this application to include the school's fourth-year annual report for their first renewal and the most recent report for future renewals.
New Hampshire law requires that a charter school must meet or exceed the objective academic test results or standards and goals as set forth in it application in order to be renewed.

During the term of a charter, New Hampshire law provides that any charter school parent (or local school board involved) can submit a written petition to the state board or request the revocation of a charter. The law provides that after reasonable notice has been provided to all affected parties, the state board may revoke a school's charter prior to the expiration of its term under the following circumstances: the school commits a material violation of any of the conditions, standards, or procedures set forth in its charter application and contract; the school fails to meet generally accepted standards for fiscal management; the school significantly violates the law; the school makes a material misrepresentation in its application or contract application; or the school becomes insolvent or financially unstable.

Statute indicates that renewals are for a term of five years.

The law provides charter schools with due process for nonrenewal and revocation decisions including a written notice of concerns and the right to a public hearing.

The law requires renewal, nonrenewal, and revocation decisions to be made in a public hearing, with authorizers stating reasons for non-renewals and revocations in writing.

Statute requires provisions for dissolution of a given charter school (including disposition of its assets as well as a plan for the education of the school’s pupils) be detailed in the contract. In addition, statute details the disposition of assets if not clear within the charter contract.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
9A
Authorizer must issue school performance renewal reports to schools whose charter will expire the following year.
Yes
9B
Schools seeking renewal must apply for it.
No
9C
Authorizers must issue renewal application guidance that provides an opportunity for schools to augment their performance record and discuss improvements and future plans.
No
9D
Ability to have a differentiated process for renewal of high-performing charter schools.
Yes
9E
Authorizers must use clear criteria for renewal and nonrenewal/revocation.
Yes
9F
Authorizers must ground renewal decisions based on evidence regarding the school’s performance over the term of the charter contract in accordance with the performance framework set forth in the charter contract.
No
9G
Requirement that authorizers close chronically low-performing charter schools unless exceptional circumstances exist.
No
9H
Authorizers must have the authority to vary length of charter renewal contract terms based on performance or other issues.
Yes
9I
Authorizers must provide charter schools with timely notification of potential revocation or nonrenewal (including reasons) and reasonable time to respond.
Yes
9J
Authorizers must provide charter schools with due process for nonrenewal and revocation decisions (e.g., public hearing, submission of evidence).
Yes
9K
All charter renewal, nonrenewal, and revocation decisions must be made in a public meeting, with authorizers stating reasons for nonrenewals and revocations in writing.
Yes
9L
Authorizers must have school closure protocols to ensure timely parent notification, orderly student and record transitions, and property and asset disposition.
No
9M
Any transfer of charter contracts from one authorizer to another are only allowed if they are approved by the state.

Is there transparency regarding educational service providers?

New Hampshire law allows charters to contract with outside entities to manage the school and requires them to include the terms of any such outside contract within an addendum in the school’s charter contract, with such terms reviewed and approved by the authorizer.
Statute also specifically requires any conflict of interest between a board of trustee member and any for-profit entity in which a contract is being sought for services to be made public and requires that board member to recuse himself from any issues related to that entity. If not, the law gives the state commissioner of education the authority to void the contact and provides that the board member can be held personally liable to the charter school for any damages caused by such contract.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
10A
All types of educational service providers (both for-profit and nonprofit) are allowed to operate all or parts of schools.
No
10B
The charter application requires (1) performance data for all current and past schools operated by the ESP, and (2) explanation and evidence of the ESP’s capacity for successful growth while maintaining quality in existing schools.
Yes
10C
A performance contract is required between the independent charter school board and the ESP, with such contract approved by the school’s authorizer.
Some
10D
School governing boards operate as entities completely independent of any ESP, individuals compensated by an ESP are prohibited from serving as voting members on such boards, and existing and potential conflicts of interest between the two entities are required to be disclosed and explained in the charter application.
No
10E
Provides that charter school governing boards must have access to ESP records necessary to oversee the ESP contract.
No
10F
An ESP must annually provide information to its charter school governing board on how that ESP spends public funding it receives when the ESP is performing a public function under applicable state law.
No
10G
Requires that similar criminal history record checks and fingerprinting requirements applicable to other public schools shall also be mandatory for on-site employees of ESPs who regularly come into contact with students.

Are the schools fiscally and legally autonomous with independent charter school boards?

New Hampshire law provides that charter schools must operate as a nonprofit secular organization, be independent of any local school board, and be managed by a board of trustees having general supervisory control and authority over the operations of the chartered school.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
11A
Fiscally autonomous schools (e.g., schools have clear statutory authority to receive and disburse funds; incur debt; and pledge, assign, or encumber assets as collateral).
Yes
11B
Legally autonomous schools (e.g., schools have clear statutory authority to enter into contracts and leases, sue and be sued in their own names, and acquire real property).
Yes
11C
Independent school governing boards created specifically to govern their charter schools.

Are there clear student enrollment and lottery procedures?

New Hampshire law requires charter schools to provide open enrollment to any student in the state. However, it also provides that students who are a resident of the district where the school is located must be given admission preference over a nonresident pupil.
New Hampshire law provides that a charter school shall not discriminate nor violate individual civil rights in any manner prohibited by law and shall not discriminate against any child with a disability.

New Hampshire law requires that students in conversion schools be given preference in such schools and that prior year students within chartered schools be given preference.

Regulations require a charter application to describe the preferential status, if any, of children of the founding members of the charter school.

New Hampshire law requires a lottery to be used if interest exceeds capacity.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
12A
Open enrollment to any student in the state.
Yes
12B
Anti-discrimination provisions regarding admissions.
Yes
12C
Required enrollment preferences for previously enrolled students within conversions and for prior-year students within charter schools.
Yes
12D
Lottery requirements.

Is there automatic exemption from many state and district laws and regulations?

New Hampshire law provides that charter schools are fully exempt from state laws and rules that otherwise apply to public or nonpublic schools.
New Hampshire law requires at least 50% of charter school teaching staff to be certified or have three years teaching experience.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
13A
Exemptions from all laws, except those covering health, safety, civil rights, student accountability, employee criminal history checks, open meetings, freedom of information, and generally accepted accounting principles.
Some
13B
Exemption from state teacher certification requirements.

Is there an automatic collective bargaining exemption?

New Hampshire law does not require charter schools to participate in existing district bargaining agreements. Statute also specifies that any bargaining units at a charter school must be separate from other bargaining units.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
14A
Charter schools authorized by nonlocal board authorizers are exempt from participation in any outside collective bargaining agreements.
Yes
14B
Charter schools authorized by local boards are exempt from participation in any district collective bargaining agreements.

Are multischool charter contracts and/or multicharter contract boards allowed?

New Hampshire law is silent regarding these arrangements.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
15A
Oversee multiple schools linked under a single contract with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.
No
15B
Hold multiple charter contracts with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

Is there eligibility and access to extracurricular and interscholastic activities?

The law provides the ability of public chartered school pupils to participate in programs and co-curricular activities in their resident district.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
16A
Laws or regulations explicitly state that charter school students and employees are eligible to participate in all extracurricular and interscholastic activities available to noncharter public school students and employees.
Yes
16B
Laws or regulations explicitly allow charter school students in schools not providing extracurricular and interscholastic activities to have access to those activities at noncharter public schools.

Is there clear identification of special education responsibilities?

New Hampshire contains a small number of the model law’s provisions regarding special education responsibilities. New Hampshire law provides that the funding and educational decision-making process for children with disabilities attending a chartered public school is the responsibility of the resident district and must retain all current options available to the parent and to the school district. The law clearly indicates that the district is the local educational agency responsible for providing special education services.
The law provides that funding for chartered public school students receiving special education services be paid directly to the school district in which the student resides. The law excludes Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funds from the requirement that school districts direct certain federal funds to a chartered public school.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
17A
Clarity regarding which entity is the local education agency (LEA) responsible for providing special education services.
Yes
17B
Clarity regarding the flow of federal, state, and local special education funds to the designated LEA.
No
17C
Clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools (in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other LEAs).
No
17D
Clarity that charter schools have access to all regional and state services and supports available to traditional districts.

Is there equitable operational funding and equal access to all state and federal categorical funding?

For any charter schools approved by a local school board, New Hampshire law provides that a minimum of 80% of the per-pupil expenditures in the school district follows a student to schools.
For charter schools approved by the state board of education, New Hampshire law provides that the state’s annual per pupil contribution to public education (that is, adequacy and disparity aid) follows a student to school.

In theory, charter schools are eligible for all applicable categorical funding, but clear guidance regarding some funds is not available.

The law provides that students attending a chartered public school shall be provided bus transportation to their school on the same terms and conditions provided for students attending non-chartered public schools.
The bulk of the state’s charters are authorized by the state board of education, not local school boards. According to recent data, the state-authorized charters receive $6,958 per pupil, as compared to state average for district students of approximately $13,000 per pupil.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
18A
Equitable operational funding statutorily driven.
No
18B
Equal access to all applicable categorical federal and state funding and clear guidance on the pass-through of such funds.
Yes
18C
Funding for transportation similar to school districts.
No
18D
Annual report offering district and charter school funding comparisons and including annual recommendations to the legislature for any needed equity enhancements.

Is there equitable access to capital funding and facilities?

New Hampshire law contains a small number of the model law’s provisions for equitable access to capital funding and facilities.New Hampshire law provides that charter schools are eligible to access tax-exempt financing through the New Hampshire Health and Education Facilities Authority.

New Hampshire law provides that no state school building aid shall be awarded to a chartered public school for the purpose of acquiring land or buildings, or for constructing, reconstructing, or improving the chartered public school, unless the building is owned by the school district, under lease to the chartered public school, and such lease does not include an option to purchase the building. It also provides that a charter conversion school shall be eligible for state school building aid.
Charter schools are exempt from state and local property taxes but only if they own the building or lease from a tax-exempt entity. Charter schools that rent or lease from an entity that is not tax exempt may request up to a 90% reduction in state and local property taxes.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Facilities Funding
No
19A
A per-pupil facilities allowance that annually reflects actual average district capital costs.
No
19B
A state grant program for charter school facilities.
Some
19C
Equal access to existing state facilities programs available to noncharter public schools.
Access to Public Space
No
19D
A requirement for districts to provide school district space or funding to charter schools if the majority of that schools’ students reside in that district.
No
19E
Right of first refusal to purchase or lease at or below fair market value a closed, unused, or underused public school facility or property.
Access to Financing Tools
No
19F
A state loan program for charter school facilities.
Yes
19G
Equal access to tax-exempt bonding authorities or allowing charter schools to have their own bonding authority
No
19H
Pledging the moral obligation of the state to help charter schools obtain more favorable bond financing terms.
No
19I
The creation and funding of a state charter school debt reserve fund.
No
19J
The inclusion of charter schools in school district bonding and mill levy requests.
No
19K
A mechanism to provide credit enhancement for charter school facilities.
Other
No
19L
Charter schools allowed to contract at or below fair market value with a school district, a college or university, or any other public or for-profit or nonprofit private entity for the use of facility for a school building.
No
19M
Certain entities allowed to provide space to charter schools within their facilities under their preexisting zoning and land use designations.
Yes
19N
Charter school facilities exempt from ad valorem taxes and other assessment fees not applicable to other public schools.

Is there access to relevant employee retirement systems?

New Hampshire law provides that a charter school may choose to participate in the state teacher retirement system, with service in a charter school counting like any other public school.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
Yes
20A
Charter schools have access to relevant state retirement systems available to other public schools.
Yes
20B
Charter schools have the option to participate (i.e., not required).

Are there provisions for full-time virtual charter schools?

New Hampshire law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions regarding full-time virtual charter schools. New Hampshire law provides performance-based funding for full-time virtual charter schools.

Subcomponents

Key
Yes
Some
No
No
21A
An authorizing structure whereby full-time virtual charter schools that serve students from more than one district may be approved only by an authorizer with statewide chartering jurisdiction and authority, full-time virtual charter schools that serve students from one school district may be authorized by that school district, and a cap is placed on the total amount of funding that an authorizer may withhold from a full-time virtual charter school.
No
21B
Legally permissible criteria and processes for enrollment based on the existence of supports needed for student success.
No
21C
Enrollment level provisions that establish maximum enrollment levels for each year of a charter contract, with any increases in enrollment from one year to the next based on whether the school meets its performance requirements.
No
21D
Accountability provisions that include virtual-specific goals regarding student enrollment, attendance, engagement, achievement, truancy, and attrition.
No
21E
Funding levels per student based on costs proposed and justified by the operators.
Yes
21F
Performance-based funding whereby full-time virtual charter schools are funded via a performance-based funding system based on meeting the accountability performance provisions.