Each spring, parents face one of the biggest decisions they can make for their child’s future: What school environment will their child will spend about 1,000 hours in next year?
Making that decision with confidence starts with knowing what options you have; you may have more school choices than you realize! Understanding these options can help you find a school where your child grows and learns to the best of their ability. New Hampshire families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.
Most New Hampshire families choose traditional public schools. Districts operate these schools, which are free to attend, open to all students, and funded by taxpayers. New Hampshire spends, on average, $16,347 per public school student each year.
In New Hampshire, the state allows each district decides to set its own open enrollment policies. Open enrollment refers to whether parents can send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. New Hampshire parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to see if this is an option. Open enrollment is a valuable form of public school choice because it widens parents options, ensuring that their zip code isn’t the sole determiner of their education.
Families in New Hampshire have another tuition-free option in charter schools. Like traditional public schools, charter schools are public, free, and usually have no requirements for entry. What distinguishes charter schools is that they have extra freedom to innovate with curriculum and learning methods. Public charter schools are accountable to authorizing entities, such as colleges or school districts, for results.
New Hampshire has more than 25 public charter schools that parents can choose from. Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves, whether that be providing a language immersion program or offering a rigorous, literacy-based curriculum. If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, a lottery system is usually used to determine admittance.
Depending on where you live in New Hampshire, you may also be able to consider a magnet school. Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as engineering or the performing arts. At a magnet school, all the subjects are taught through the lenses of that specific track. As of 2017, Maple Street Magnet School was New Hampshire’s only magnet school. Students accepted to Maple Street Magnet School through its blind lottery can choose to attend the magnet school rather than their neighborhood school.
Families in New Hampshire can also consider private schools, nonpublic schools that charge tuition. Private schools may offer a unique curriculum, smaller class sizes, or a faith-based tradition. New Hampshire’s more than 100 private schools come in all shapes and forms, from religious schools to schools designed for children with special needs. One directory of New Hampshire private schools can be found here.
New Hampshire students in families below a certain income level are eligible for publicly run scholarships. Also, effective in 2018, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Online learning is sometimes overlooked, but it offers a uniquely flexible learning environment that meets a variety of family needs. Whether your child wants to accelerate his or her learning or needs a quieter environment in which to focus, you may be interested in giving virtual school a try. New Hampshire residents, high school and adults, can take courses free of charge, full- or part-time, at Virtual Learning Academy Charter.
You can also choose homeschooling, the process of parents educating students at home. Homeschooling is permitted in all 50 states and allows for a highly personal and customizable learning experience. Check out a how-to about homeschooling in New Hampshire here. You can also find more resources at the New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition.
For additional information about school choices in New Hampshire, visit these resources:
National School Choice Week 2021 will take place January 24 – 30, 2021. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Click here for ideas, inspiration, and more information!
New Hampshire celebrated National School Choice Week 2020 with a record-breaking 195 events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in New Hampshire.
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