Letter to the Editor: Requiring parents to "opt-in" will hinder Laconia's ability to attract school-related grants

To The Daily Sun,

The Laconia School District receives annual funding from competitive federal and state grant opportunities which allow us to support our students and families in ways that fall outside of academics. We receive funding through the School Climate Transformation Grant (US DOE), the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Grant (US DHHS, SAMHSA), the Student Assistance Program Grant (NH DHHS, BDAS), the System of Care Grant (US DHHS, SAMHSA), and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant (NH DOE).

 These programs allow us to support some of our most vulnerable students, including those with behavioral health issues and substance use disorders.

 All of these grants require surveying students and reporting on our outcomes. SB-431 is a bill that will be up for a vote this week in the New Hampshire State Senate. It allows us to continue surveying our students effectively and reporting accurately on our grant progress. If SB-431 does not pass, it will be very difficult to meet the outcome data requirements, leading to potential funding loss and ineligibility to apply for future funding for much-needed programs and services for our most at-risk students and families.

Requiring parents to opt in directly jeopardizes the number of responses we receive, and the potential funding associated with these grants. Given that no one has chosen to opt out in the past, I am not sure the change to opt in does anything more than to make the process more cumbersome, confuse families by changing the procedure, and potentially endangers our needed funding.

If the Senate does not pass SB-431 with the amendment proposed, the Laconia School District is at risk of losing federal funding to support our children and families. I hope that the state senator representing Laconia will take this into consideration and vote yes on SB-431.

McKenzie Harrington-Bacote
Grants Administrator
Laconia School District, Office of School Wellness

Click here for the full letter in the Laconia Daily Sun.