Karrick Responds to Rep. Wells on SB 193

By David Karrick

I hope everyone is surviving the current deep freeze.

I am writing in response to State Representative Natalie Wells' recent letter in the Andover Beacon about Senate Bill 193 which would authorize individual Education Savings Accounts of $3,600 annually to help children from low income families attend private schools. This is adequacy aid that would otherwise go to the school district. The amended version of this bill would limit total financing for these accounts to one quarter of one percent of a school district's total appropriated budget. For districts such as Merrimack Valley, which includes the towns of Andover, Salisbury, and Webster; and Kearsarge, which includes Warner, Ms.Wells' hometown, this could mean the loss of over $100,000 from the annual budget. Additionally, the losses could be greater if the State fails to fully fund the scholarship stabilization grants for the Savings Accounts, a strong possibility since the source of these grants has not been determined. The State's track record is poor since it has rarely fully funded other revenue for the school districts such as catastrophic aid grants for special education. One also wonders about the supervision of the curriculum of the private schools benefiting from the proposed Education Savings Accounts. Then there is the problem of supporting schools espousing particular religious beliefs with State tax dollars.

The loss of revenue from the State to the school districts directly leads to an increase in our local property taxes or a reduction in public school programs such as athletics. Kearsarge taxpayers in 2018 will fund 16% more of its budget through local taxation than it did 5 years ago, an ever increasing unsustainable trend.

Happy New Year.

David Karrick