From Representative Natalie Wells
District: Merrimack 25
Ready or not, the winter season is upon us along with beautiful holidays to share with your family and friends.
I have received emails from constituents in regards to a bill for Education Savings Accounts, also known as ESA’s. These would be used for families choosing to send their child to a non-public school. Another newspaper gave their view and the impression that these monies are coming from our local property taxes. This is not true. The amended version has income limits so a family has to be truly low income. A family of 4 making $73,000 or less would qualify. ESA’s are dedicated savings accounts for education. They are like Health Savings Accounts for health care. Parents can pay tuition, buy books, hire a tutor, enroll in an online course etc.
The monies going to a child is the $3,600 adequacy aid that the state currently pays a school district for each child in a seat. If the child has a disability or is free/reduced lunch, they qualify higher. One concern is how will the monies be dispersed to the parents and how is it overseen. Those that apply to the scholarship organization, i.e., Children’s Scholarship Fund, are approved based on income. They would receive a restricted debit card that has the $3,600 loaded on it. It is restricted in that the parent would not be able to use it in any personal way, such as a liquor store. The parents also have to submit receipts to the scholarship organization confirming their expenditures.
These special situations where parents seek to find an alternative school for their child may be due to being bullied, special needs, or just needs a smaller classroom to learn. Some people think this is all about taking care of the rich families. As stated before, this program is for families struggling with few economic resources. This is where a small classroom environment, for whatever the reason, can help that child.
In no way do I want to diminish the hard work and dedication that many teachers in public school can give their students. In fact, I personally know some great dedicated teachers, and they’re spot on. However, they cannot be everywhere for everyone.
ESA’s are not going to be for the majority of families. In fact, the percentage of families in NH who actually participate in scholarships and alternative schooling is a very small fraction of the pie. The bottom line here is to allow the parent, not the government to decide what is best for their child. The state may create an opportunity for children to be educated, but the family should have the say on how and where they want their child to be educated.
Now, I’m going to switch gears and wish you and your family joyous holidays. Take time to reflect on all that we have and think how we might lend a hand to someone less fortunate than us. Put the politics aside, and share some cocoa with a friend!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,
Representative Natalie Wells , Serving: Andover, Danbury, Salisbury, Warner, & Webster Email: firstname.lastname@example.org