School Vouchers for Arizona Families
The Arizona Legislature passed 353 bills this session and Governor Doug Ducey has already signed 302 into law. Most of these laws will not take effect until August 9th but it is important to know what is coming down the pipe. Much of the new legislation will implement minor changes to already existing laws, There are, however, some new laws that may have an impact on your daily life. This month we are going to be looking at each of these pieces of legislation, explain what they mean and who they will or have already affected. It should be an educational month!
SB 1431: School Vouchers
The full text of the bill can be found here. Introduced by Senator Griffin, the bill expands the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA). The program was established in 2011 for students with disabilities. Since then, the program opened to other categories, including children in poor-performing schools, children who are a part of military families or live on Native American reservations, brothers and sisters of students who have ESAs, and children in the foster program. Currently, about 3,300 students are a part of the program.
The program allots qualifying families 90% of the state money that would have been given to the school, previously attended by the student. The funds are put into an account that the parents/guardians access using essentially debit cards. Qualifying families are able to use the funds on private-school tuition and other educational services.
What has changed? Lawmakers expanded the eligibility of ESA, eventually, all of Arizona’s 1 million-plus public school students will be able to apply. Only an estimated 5,500 will be eligible each year, with no more than 30,000 by 2022.
Families can apply under the current law with the Arizona Department of Education. Those looking to apply under the new law will need to fill an application with the AZ Department of Ed on the day the new measure goes into effect.
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