Saturday, February 14, 2009

Charter School May Unionize

Frequent readers know I am a huge fan of charter schools and hold a dislike for government unions. My dislike of government unions has to do with their effect on the different forms of government, the people they serve, productivity and taxpayers. While doing some research on teacher certification vs. student performance I reminded myself of Jay P. Greene's Blog. We have a ton of links on our site which I do not visit as often as I would like. Jim always tells me, "life is just too short there is so much more I want to learn." Considering he is one of the most intelligent and informative people I know it is amazing he feels he has so much more to learn. Bit I digress.... I ran across the following piece on Jay P. Greene's Blog titled KIPP RIP.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for our readers.

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, two KIPP schools in New York have had a majority of their teachers vote to unionize under a card check type provision. New York Times story here.

Andy Rotherham attempts to downplay the whole incident. Nice try Andy, but forget about it. KIPP should pull the plug on these schools at the end of the school year, burn down the buildings and plow salt into the ground upon which they once stood. This would be tragic for the people that no doubt worked very hard to bring these schools to life, but let’s face it, their efforts would be much better rewarded in other states.

The whole idea of running a KIPP academy along with a thousand page union contract is absurd. Half-days on Saturday? Not on your life. On call to help with homework? Are you kidding? KIPP has earned many donors, but can they afford a rubber room? Need to change a light bulb in your classroom? Page 844, paragraph 5 clearly states that you must call a union electrician. You kids sit quietly with your heads down in the dark until he arrives. It will be any day now.

KIPP has a methodology and a hard earned brand to protect, and there are plenty of other kids in other states to help. If Congress is misguided enough to pass a national card check, it will be up to individual states to ban the practice. Those that do may find themselves rewarded by the opening of some very high quality schools.

UPDATE Andy has posted a hopeful reply that the first generation of union agreement with KIPP may be benign due to the threat of closing the school, which he views as a PR nightmare. The unions seems nigh immune to bad PR to me, and the best way to get leverage is to display your willingness to use it. Let’s see how events unfold.

To read more of Jay P. Greene's Blog click here. I am also a huge fan of his book Education Myths a must read for all parents who send their children to public schools as well as taxpayers. Cathy

Friday, February 13, 2009

Great Coverage Of HB 367 and 368 Hearings.

The Concord Monitor as well as the Nashua Telegraph both reported the events without bias. Thank you to all the reporters involved.

The comments of both papers are a must read....if you can only read one set of comments you should read the comments in the Nashua Telegraph. The stereotypes and hatred to those who choose to be responsible for the education of their own children is why I fight for education freedom and why I fight to educate the general public about homeschooling.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for our readers.

Home school field trip to capital Parents, children pack State House debate

By MEG HECKMAN Monitor staff
February 12, 2009 - 7:13 am

KEN WILLIAMS / Monitor staff
Abbey Kessler, 10, a home-schooler from Concord, listens to the debate at the State House on two proposed bills that would require parents of home-schoolers to sign a responsibility form and the children to take a standardized test.

Hundreds of children received quite a civics lesson yesterday when their parents brought them to the State House to protest a pair of bills that would increase state monitoring of students educated at home.

One proposal would require parents to sign a form acknowledging their responsibility to include certain subjects in their at-home curriculum. The other bill would change the way students' achievements are measured, requiring both a standardized test and a professional review of a portfolio. Currently, families may choose from several different forms of assessment.

The bills' supporters say the vast majority of New Hampshire's 4,600 home-schoolers receive fine educations, but they're worried about several hundred children whose parents might not understand the ramifications of removing their kids from traditional schools.

"This is meant to be informative, not punitive," said Mary Heath, deputy commissioner of education. "I'm speaking for the parents who aren't here today, who may not have the depth of understanding."

Much of the testimony yesterday was from parents, kids and lawmakers against the proposed changes. They said the bills unfairly target home-schooled children. Requiring more tests and paperwork, they said, would mean more work and more money for families and the school districts that supervise their efforts.

"This system is not broken," said Rep. Peter Bolster, an Alton Republican. "There is no indication that it's broken."

At least 1,000 people - teenagers, children and babies included - assembled in downtown Concord yesterday, overflowing parking garages, passing out fliers and packing Representatives Hall. The seats filled quickly as did the risers, balcony and aisles, prompting concerns about fire codes.

One member of the House Education Committee, Rep. Scott Merrick, wondered if such a showing said something about the necessity of the bills.

"I think if we take a look at the crowd, the home school community seems to be pretty well aware of the RSAs," said Merrick, a Lancaster Democrat.

Under the law as it now stands, parents who choose to home school their children must alert their school district and agree to supervision by a local superintendent, a private school principal or the state Department of Education.

Parents must provide "instruction in science, mathematics, language, government, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, the history of the constitutions of New Hampshire and the United States, and an exposure to and appreciation of art and music." Textbooks, schedules, curricula and other details are up to individual families.

Each year, parents must assemble a portfolio of their children's efforts and arrange an outside evaluation of their children's progress. Families may choose from several options. Students can take a standardized test, or a certified teacher can review the portfolio. Families may also use an alternative form of assessment if the local school district approves.

The legislation would change that, requiring both a portfolio review and a standardized test each year. The option of an alternative assessment would be eliminated, although the bills' sponsor, Rep. Judith Day, said she foresees school districts having leeway to make exceptions if circumstances prevent a child from being able to sit for an exam.

"This was not an attempt to end home schooling," said Day, a North Hampton Democrat.

While the adults parsed details of the bills and debated the differences between public and at-home education, the older children listened and took notes. Parents sometimes leaned over to whisper an explanation of a legislative term or obscure word. In the back of the hall, children spread math workbooks across risers usually reserved for the press and puzzled over subtraction.

Children wandered the hallways, inspecting antique flags and portraits, or nibbling on afternoon snacks. Outside, they scaled snowbanks and played with friends.

Jane Grady of Londonderry has educated her kids at home for 14 years. Yesterday, she disputed the premise of the bills. The home school families she's met over the years have all been well-informed about the laws governing education.

"The possibility some homeschoolers somewhere may exist that do not comply is, in my opinion, faulty grounds," she said.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What a Joy...The Halls of the State House were packed.

Union Leader reporter Tom Fahey did an outstanding unbiased story about the HB 367 and 368 hearings in Today's Union Leader.

The chairperson of the hearings Emma Rous was clearly biased against homeschoolers. This bias attitude was so blatant that many children noticed her biased attitude against them as well.

The article below states that educators said "they have a responsibility to make sure all home-schooled students are receiving an adequate education." I have seen the job that educators have done, I don't want my children to have an adequate education I want them to get an excellent education and it won't happen in public schools that are failing to educate tens of thousands of students.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for our readers.

Home-school backers pack State House
State House Bureau Chief

CONCORD – A crowd that state police estimated at 1,000 packed the State House yesterday to urge lawmakers to reject changes in home-schooling laws.

Educators said they have a responsibility to make sure all home-schooled students are receiving an adequate education. The proposals call for increased oversight of home-schooled students.

Parents who opposed the measures said it works against the rights they have enjoyed to educate their children in the way that best suits them.

"It definitely imposes on the freedoms we have now," said David Menard of Pittsfield, who also serves on the board of the Christian Home Educators of New Hampshire.

Menard, along with other opponents of the bill and their children, packed Representatives Hall, the visitors gallery, the hallway and the stairwell. Home schoolers pride themselves tailoring education to their children's needs, whether through teaching materials, or through trips to museums, historical sites and, like yesterday, the Legislature.

Dawn Platte of Salisbury said she came to Concord after being contacted by networks of home-school families.

"I have never had so many e-mails about home schooling as I have had on this one, from a number of groups," she said. "I think part of it is that we were just here last year on home- schooling laws."

Kara Westfall, a home-schooler from Rochester, said she opposed both bills.

"I think it will be wasteful, and divert resources from people who need it to people who don't," she said. "I feel we should be allowed to educate our children in a way we feel is appropriate."

The most widely criticized was HB 367, which sets out strict guidelines for assessing the home-school students academic progress. It would require them to submit portfolios annually, and to take standardized tests while monitored by a certified educator.

A second bill, HB 368, would require parents to sign a statement that they will abide by education laws when they notify a school district they plan to home school. Local officials would then have to provide the parent with copies of home-schooling laws, and a list of resources to help them succeed.

Deputy Education Commissioner Mary Heath said she supports the bills.

"This is meant to be informative, not punitive," she said of HB 368, which she said would serve as a useful reminder that there are state laws that apply to home-school curriculum.

Standardized tests could be as simple as the NECAP testing all public school students now take, she said.

"We have 400 parents here today, but there are 4,000 home- schooled students throughout our state. We are responsible for all those children," she said.

Rep. Nancy Elliot, R-Merrimack, said the bill is not needed.

"Home-schooled students are excelling at a very high rate, there is no doubt about that," she said.

Rep. Peter Bolster, R-Alton, said HB 367 may require local district to add staff to keep up with home-schooled students.

"The system is not broken," he said. "Please, leave these people alone."

The sponsor of the two bills, Rep. Judith Day, D-North Hampton, said she filed the bills to make sure all home educators are aware of state laws, and to be sure the state meets its obligation to educate all children.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another Testimony From the House Bill 367 and 368 Hearings.

The following testimony is from Jim Forsythe he gave up his speaking position to the attorney Mike Donnelly from the Home School Legal Defense Association. Thank you Jim and Mike for your efforts in fighting for homeschooling freedoms.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for our readers.

Good afternoon, I’m Dr Jim Forsythe from Strafford, NH. I’m a Professor at UNH, while my wife teaches a combination of community college classes and public school courses through the new Virtual Charter school. We’ve homeschooled our two children for seven years now.

I’m opposed to HB 367 for a myriad of reasons, many of which have been covered. But my prime opposition to this bill is that it violates the very ideals that this State, and this country were founded upon. The very first article in the NH Constitution reads “All men are born equally free and independent; therefore all government of right originates from the people, is founded in consent, and instituted for the general good.”

In a free society, government is supposed to be accountable to the people, not the other way around. Testing within the public school system is legitimate since it is a mechanism for making sure the money taxpayers have spent has shown results. It’s a way to make the schools accountable to the people. But no taxpayer money is spent on a homeschool program. In fact homeschoolers pay taxes for schools they don’t use, despite the fact that they generally give up one income. This bill would perversely force these families to become accountable to the government, even more so than they are already are.

The legislature of N.H. is constitutionally obligated to govern by consent. By the large turnout today, I think it is safe to say that homeschoolers in NH are unwilling to consent to HB 367. I urge you to ITL this bill and begin to examine ways that you can provide more freedoms to the homeschooling community, not less.

Jim Forsythe, PhD

Jim's HB 367 Testimony

Jim presented the following Testimony at the HB 367 Hearing.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for our readers.

Homeschooling is the execution of a most basic parental right - to direct the upbringing of children as we see fit. HB367 usurps this innate parental authority in return for no tangible benefit whatsoever.

In the years since my wife and I began to educate our children, I have never once met any parent whose homeschooling motivation was to provide a public school style education. Beneficial deviation from the "one size fits none" approach (of public ed) is a central tenet of home education. Relegating control of homeschooling to the superintendents as HB367 prescribes denies parents the freedom they require, and destroys the very soul of homeschooling. Sadly, I suspect this may be part of the true purpose of HB367, for all other explanations fall flat.

Being compelled to place our childrens' future in the hands of government education is particularly egregious in our situation. The town of Croydon sends students in grades 4-12 to the neighboring Newport school system. Newport Middle High School is entering its sixth year of failing to make AYP in mathematics and third year of AYP failure in literacy. Newport Middle High School does not even offer instruction in Calculus and is credibly reputed to suffer from serious drug problems.

My wife holds a Master's degree in Audiology and has given up a lucrative career to provide our children every possible advantage. I was a three year Doctoral student of Nuclear Engineering. Are we to blindly accept that Newport's "credentialed educators", unable to teach a 300-year old mathematics system or basic literacy, are somehow qualified to judge our effectiveness?

Supporters of HB367 usually respond that there are "some people" who "abuse" homeschooling, yet we never seem to get specifics. In a free society, government must never curtail freedom without justification. Proponents of HB367 seek to erode our freedoms, and thus bear two heavy burdens. They must prove that a significant problem exists, and they must prove that their remedy is both just and effective. They can do neither, and they don't seem too interested in trying.

Unable or unwilling to prove their case, the architects of HB367 forfeit their claims on our liberty. For this reason and for the sake of our children, please reject HB367.

Jim Peschke

Income Tax Bill

Jim wrote the following piece regarding HB 583. CNHT also has a piece on the bill at their website.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for our readers.

Special interest groups have fired another shot across our bow in the form of HB583. The brashness of this proposal, a 5% income tax for "educational adequacy" and absorbing teachers into the protected class of state employees, should help identify this plan for what it truly is; a power and money grab by the privileged few at the expense of taxpayers.

At the statewide legislative forums, several citizens expressed skepticism about "educational adequacy" being little more than a front for an income tax and an expansion of the education industrial complex. Such concerns were met with derision and scorn, yet the fact that we're here today demonstrates beyond a doubt that these concerns were in fact justified.

The Supreme Court made it clear in their Claremont ruling that they are not willing to protect us from this onslaught. We look to you, the legislature, as our last line of defense. The only bright side to an income tax is that 10% of the people I worked with in December will remain unaffected, as they no longer shoulder the burden of income. This nationwide employment downturn makes increased state spending particularly offensive.

The folly of solving a manufactured education crisis through increased taxation is reminiscent of the purses my mother carried when I was young. Each year she bought a larger purse hoping it would hold enough. She finally learned that less baggage, not larger purses, was the answer.

Many lawmakers and our Governor have already pledged to protect us from broadbased taxes, because they understand that the purse will never be big enough. To the undecided, please find it within yourselves to resist the pressure to expand government bloat during the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes. Prudence demands that we consign HB583 and anything like it to the dustbin of history.

Jim Peschke

Another News Source Reporting On Judith Day's Attack on Homeschoolers

The following piece appeared at Good News Daily.Net, kind of ironic is it not?

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for our readers.

Homeschool Freedom Under Fire in New Hampshire

(EP News)—New Hampshire Rep. Judith Day is the sole sponsor of legislation that would radically rewrite the testing and assessment portion of the New Hampshire homeschool law. “If passed, New Hampshire would have one of the most restrictive homeschool laws in the nation,” said Mike Donnelly, staff attorney for Home School Legal Defense Association.

Over the past few years increasing numbers of parents have been turning to homeschooling to raise their children. Homeschoolers are thriving since all the research shows that homeschoolers significantly outperform their peers on standardized tests.

Furthermore, studies show there is no correlation between increased regulation and homeschool students’ performance, which is why most states have removed their assessment and testing requirements.

The current New Hampshire law is already more burdensome than most states. In addition to an annual notice homeschoolers must provide an annual statement of academic progress and maintain two years of records and instructional materials. The proposed law would require all homeschoolers to take both a test, and to submit to a portfolio evaluation by a “credentialed educator.” It then places subjective authority in the hands of a superintendent or non- public school principle to terminate a family’s homeschool program.

“It’s amazing that New Hampshire is considering these kinds of additional restrictions when it already requires parents to provide annual assessments,” said Donnelly. “This new law is unnecessary. It would simply waste taxpayers’ money and parents’ time,” he added.

Hearings are scheduled for Feb. 11 in Concord, New Hampshire.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bill Will Take Away Resources Where Most Needed

The following LTE by a homeschooling Mom appears in the Foster's Daily Democrat. Many schools are failing to educate the children they have, resources and finances of these failing schools should not be allocated to a problem that does not exist.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for our readers.

Seacoast lawmaker unfair to constituents

To the editor: In the recent article, 'Dover School officials cool to user fees,' published on February 3rd, the School Board was left struggling to cut more than $666,000 from their budget to be able to meet the request of the City Council to not increase the budget by more than 2 percent.

In a time of great economic uncertainty, I would ask that the Dover school officials and the citizens of Dover take a very careful look at House Bill 367. Rep. Judith Day, D-North Hampton, attempting to burden tax payers of all school districts with a bill that would create redundant annual educational evaluations of the state's home schooling population.

There are around 5,000 home schooling children in this state, and each one of them all ready submits to a form of evaluation yearly, either a portfolio evaluation or a standardized test. This creates a wealth of information for the State of New Hampshire, ensuring that no home-schooled child 'falls through the cracks.'

Rep. Day wants there to be not one, but two forms of evaluation for each child, each and every year - both a portfolio of the child's work, and a standardized test. She proposes that the standardized test be administered by a credentialed educator.

Current law provides that a home-schooled child be allowed to have a standardized test be administered by their parent, who provides that service for free. Rep. Day wishes to take that option away from the parent, and force the school district to pay a teacher to administer a test. Rep. Day also wants a portfolio of the child's work to be evaluated by the district superintendent, with the superintendent having ultimate veto power on whether or not that child has made 'adequate progress.'

The child is only given one year to improve their progress, under threat to the parent that the child will be returned to public school. Public schools that do not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) are given seven years to improve their scores. That strikes me as an unfair double standard for home-schoolers. It is burdensome to all the superintendents of the state to be asked to take the time to evaluate a homeschooler's portfolio, when the current law already provides for that. Normally, a home schooling parent pays — out of their own pocket — to have a certified teacher evaluate their child's portfolio in lieu of a standardized test.

HB 367 seems, at first glance, to only adversely impact the home schooling community. A closer look reveals that this is an attempt to burden all New Hampshire taxpayers, home school and public school alike. Home schooling parents already provide test scores or portfolio evaluations each year to the state of New Hampshire.

If Rep. Day cannot make good use of the data al ready at her disposal, why should we as taxpayers allow her to pass legislation that is to the detriment of our already strained school budget?

I urge all New Hampshire citizens, especially those with a vested interest in education, to contact Rep. Day and ask her to vote inexpedient to legislate on H.B. 367. I also urge all taxpayers to contact their local representatives and ask them to read the bill carefully and also vote inexpedient to legislate.

Sadly, Rep. Day consulted with no one before putting forth HB 367. Let us send her a clear message that she should have taken the time to listen to her constituent's wishes before rushing ahead with costly legislation.

Ellen Rogers


Monday, February 9, 2009

No! Way, way, way past last call.

The following brilliant piece appeared in the GW Hatchet a student paper of George Washington State University. We will not have real education reform until we stop feeding the Big Ed gravy train and the teachers unions release their iron grip from the public education system. Two of the biggest lies I know "It's for the Kids!" and "Teachers are underpaid."

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for our readers.

Andrew Clark:
Way past last call

Wasteful education spending needs to stop now

by Andrew Clark Issue: 2/9/09 | Opinions

The farce that is President Obama's wasteful economic stimulus bill still (even after the compromise) has dozens of provisions that need to be seriously reconsidered. However, cutting out much of the billions of dollars in new education funding from the bill was a good place to start and I say we should cut out even more.

I know the liberal elements in Washington like to operate under the myth that all their government programs would work if only they had more funding, but let's be clear about something: More money for public education will not improve public education. Period.

It's no secret that public education in the United States is troubling at best, for a variety of reasons, both cultural and institutional. Parents that don't put enough importance on education contribute to low grades and high dropout rates. Unchallenging curricula and ineffective testing allow students to glide from grade to grade regardless of whether they are actually ready. A lack of school choice stalls competition and stagnates education quality. Teachers' unions are too powerful and prevent any meaningful reform. Regardless of which argument you believe, everyone can agree that public education in America, to phrase it in an uneducated way, sucks.

So our answer was to double the size of the education budget by throwing another $150 billion at a system that we know doesn't work?

To put this in a metaphor we college students may understand, imagine there's an alcoholic at the bar at closing time and the solution to get rid of him is to keep the bar open for another hour. This closely resembles our current education policy.

For the past 20 years, except for No Child Left Behind, mainly all we have done in the name of fixing education is pump more money into it. Fact: The United States spends a higher percentage of GDP, around 6 percent, on education than almost all other industrialized countries. Yet we consistently fall behind those same countries in achievement. According to UNICEF, only 1 percent of South Korean students fall below international education standards, while 16 percent of American students do the same. More funding alone clearly does not and will not guarantee success.

The Bush administration increased the education budget by 167 percent over two terms, and we're still in an education crisis. It's not just primary and secondary education that fall into this illusion that more money automatically means better results. College students, too, have become victims.

During the Bush years, funding for student loans increased nearly 400 percent to $50 billion. Yet college prices still rise and just as many families are having problems paying for college. When colleges realize struggling families will have more loan money to pay for tuition, they react by raising their tuition even higher. Hundreds of economists have realized and documented this phenomenon, but Washington ignores it under the shield of "how can you oppose more money for education? You monster!"

Well, I oppose more money for education - at least until we fix the fundamental problems with the system.

If you ask me, the teachers' unions, in the interest of higher pay, have focused so hard on maintaining the status quo and raising teachers' salaries that any meaningful reform has become impossible. That's open for debate, of course, but nevertheless it's a debate we need to have before we start allocating $150 billion in taxpayer money to causes we know don't and won't work.

Let's be smart about this one, guys, and not let our schools turn into that drunk guy at the bar.

The writer, a sophomore majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet columnist and a member of the College Republicans executive board.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hoorah for the Croydon Selectmen!

The Croydon selectmen in what appears to be in their infinite wisdom have not boarded the spend our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren into perpetual debt bandwagon. Thank you Croydon Selectmen.

The following piece appears in the Union Leader. Readers will have to visit the Union Leader website to download the wish list.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for our readers.

A $2.4 billion wish list
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
19 hours ago

If cities and towns across the state got everything they wanted from the federal stimulus package, the bill would tally nearly $2.4 billion.

Enough to buy every New Hampshire resident a McDonald's Big Mac and an apple pie every day for a year.

In their ideal world, officials in Hampton would use $197 million in federal stimulus money to replace the Hampton River bridge, construct new public works and district court buildings, and make repairs to the town's ocean seawall, among other things.

Manchester wouldn't mind receiving a check for $153 million for 93 items and projects, whether it be building a new elementary school or something more mundane: $14,000 to replace a supervisor's vehicle at the local bus company.

And then there's Marlow, population 769.

Officials in that southwest New Hampshire town would spend $5,000 for a new roof for town hall, the smallest single item on a wish list of requested projects from communities around the state.

"We'll probably have people, including the selectmen, up on the roof doing it," said Jacqui Fay, the town's executive administrator.

The town would like a million dollars total, half of that for a new fire station.

More than 100 communities are asking for the stimulus funds -- with a total amount equivalent to $1,811 for every state resident, according to the list compiled by the New Hampshire Local Government Center in Concord.

"It's easy to get in line when they're passing money out," said Guy Santagate, city manager for the town of Claremont, calling the long log of wishful items a "Christmas list."

Who and how much?

No one knows how much money the state ultimately will get or which communities will win the stimulus lottery.

The federal government will funnel much of the stimulus aid through state agencies, which in turn will award grants and loans to communities. Although ballpark estimates place New Hampshire's share at somewhere around $300 million, not all of that will go out to local communities. The Senate and House need to merge their separate stimulus bills into one compromise package that President Barack Obama can sign.

Officials from local municipalities and agencies crowded an auditorium at the state Department of Environmental Services in Concord on Friday morning to learn more about applying for economic stimulus funding. (SHAWNE K. WICKHAM)

"However we can get it, we'll work with whomever we have to," said Portsmouth's city manager, John Bohenko. "I'm sure there's probably not enough money to go around for the amount of money requested."

Laconia's city manager, Eileen Cabanel, said she has no idea what the odds are on nearly $13.7 million in projects, including her top priority: $1 million for reconstructing the Weirs Beach boardwalk, damaged last August during a heavy rainstorm.

"I think there's so little information out there on what truly is going to pass and how much is going to filter its way down to cities and towns," she said. "I don't think the President of the United States (knows), so far be it for me to say how much it's going to be."

But how much does she hope to get?

"All of it," she laughed.

Major projects

According to a fact sheet released by the White House last week, the stimulus plan for New Hampshire would create or save 16,700 jobs over the next two years and provide funding to modernize at least 28 schools.

Requests include many big-ticket items that have been on the state's radar for years, including $300 million for commuter rail linking Nashua and Manchester and $401 million for improvements to the Spaulding Turnpike.

Nearly two-thirds of all requested dollars in New Hampshire are tied to the 39 most expensive projects, each costing at least $10 million.

More than 15 communities are looking to upgrade or build wastewater treatment plants -- and the stimulus bill might help them out.

Historically, the state has covered 20 to 30 percent of a wastewater project's cost through loan forgiveness, but grants for new projects are currently frozen because of the state's budget problems, according to Harry Stewart, director of the state's water division.

The stimulus bill could make such loans "come with a 25 percent forgiveness or 50 percent forgiveness or 75 percent forgiveness," Stewart said.

Greater Manchester

Manchester initially drew up a list of $195.5 million in projects, from new lockers at McDonough School to new artificial turf at Manchester High School West. That list was pared to about $153 million for projects that would be shovel-ready in the next 12 to 24 months, according to Sean Thomas, senior policy adviser for Mayor Frank Guinta. The city estimates more than 1,300 jobs would be created, not counting the school projects.

The Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, which had $12.5 million in projects in the city's list, also could receive stimulus funds from the Federal Aviation Administration, Thomas said.

Londonderry has all its hopes on one project: the Pettengill Road economic development project just south of the airport, according to Town Manager David Caron.

The town has been hoping to stimulate economic development on about 1,000 acres of industrial land, most of it privately owned, once the airport access road is completed, Caron said. The $12.3 million plan would reconstruct Pettengill Road and extend the main sewer and water lines.

"This project aligns perfectly with the goals of the stimulus package," he said. "We can be on the ground in 60 to 90 days."

Taxes and utility rates

Concord's city manager, Thomas Aspell Jr., said the federal money should help communities do projects without hitting ratepayers or taxpayers.

Without the federal stimulus help, "what we're going to have to do is raise taxes and raise sewer and water rates," he said. "The way I looked at it is, you want to put money in people's pockets to spend into the economy."

In Littleton, officials are hoping stimulus money will help pay for the second phase of the Main Street reconstruction project. Town manager Chuck Connell said funding for the project failed at last year's town meeting, "but if the President wants to come in with a peach basket full of money, we're ready to go."

Also ready to go is the reconstruction of Saranac Street.

"It's engineered, and we're ready on the environmental permitting; what we need is money, honey," Connell said.

Claremont already is using its own money -- about $10 million -- in a public-private partnership to rehab four mill buildings. About 160 construction workers are on the job, and private developers are chipping in about $35 million.

"Everyone wants a piece of the action, but we think those communities that show a real partnership with the federal government by investing some of their own time, effort and money should get credit when (federal officials) look over what projects they're going to fund," Santagate said. "I hope we get our share and spend it wisely."

Shawne K. Wickham of the New Hampshire Sunday News staff contributed to this report.