RELEASE:

Equal Opportunity For All Students Act Clears House Education Committee

RIDGELAND, Miss.- The Equal Opportunity For All Students Act, HB 943, has passed the House Education Committee today and will now head to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration.

The deadline for committees to report on general bills is February 23.
Education Scholarship Accounts give parents a new education option for their children. For students whose needs are not being met in public school, the ESA program allows parents to withdraw their child from public school and have the state education funds that would have been spent on the child’s behalf deposited into an ESA. The ESA funds allotted for that child can then be used for a variety of education-related expenses outside the traditional public school setting, including private school tuition, tutoring, educational therapy, textbooks, etc.

Under this proposed legislation, all previous ESA recipients would remain eligible for the program. The program would be also available to all current public school students or those entering kindergarten or first grade. Other students who would be eligible include:

Students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or specified disability
Students with an active duty military parent
Foster children who have achieved permanency through adoption or guardianship
Siblings of currently eligible and participating students
Students with special needs will continue to be eligible for an ESA in the amount of $6,500, while low income students (those with an income less than 200% Federal Poverty Level) will be eligible for an ESA in the amount of $5,000. Middle class families (those with an income between 200-350% Federal Poverty Level) will be eligible for an ESA in the amount of $4,000. Families earning more than 350% Federal Poverty Level will not be eligible for an ESA.

The program is capped at one percent of public school enrollment in its first year.

2/18/16