We are forwarding this legislative report from the President of the Home Education Foundation, Brenda Dickinson, for your information.
Legislative Update for the Week of January 30
The Governor has released his Budget and the Budget Recommended Conforming Bill for Scholarships on February 1. You can read the bill at:
Family Empowerment Scholarship-Educational Options in the Governor’s bill is very different from HB 1. The Governor’s bill is more favorable for home education families for the following reasons.
It has no testing requirement or reporting of test results to a designated state university.
It allows the parent to choose the same methods of evaluation which are in the home education law.
It does not require a Choice Navigator.
Home Education parents would use the scholarship to pay for the list of items on lines 75-115 in the bill. The list includes paying for a certified teacher or nationally norm-referenced test. In addition, the scholarship will pay for instructional materials, curriculum, tuition or fees associated with full-time or part-time enrollment in a home education program, eligible private school tuition and classes, eligible classes at a post-secondary educational institution or a program offered by a post-secondary institution, FLVS or public school classes.
Eligibility for the Family Empowerment Scholarship-Educational Options includes any student, if the income for a family of 4 is less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level which in 2023 would be $120,000. It prioritizes:
Students whose family income does not exceed 185% of poverty.
Students already on scholarship.
Siblings of current students on scholarship.
Students in foster care or out-of-home care.
Dependent child of a member of the US Armed Forces or
Dependent child of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, paramedic, and all public safety telecommunicators.
There is a cap on the number of scholarships. The actual number of scholarships is hard to determine because it varies each year based on 1% of the state’s total full-time equivalent student membership and how many students are already on scholarship. The bill raises the cap to 3%. Parents who want to home educate are eligible for the scholarship if they meet the eligibility criteria and there are available scholarships.
In summary this bill eliminates a lot of extra work for the SFOs and the restrictions on the home education program in HB 1.
Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities (FES-UA) is being renamed in this bill to the Family Empowerment Scholarship- Gardiner-McKay which will make many recipients of those former scholarships very happy.
The cap on the FES-UA is being increased annually from 1% to 3% of the state’s total exceptional student education full-time equivalent student membership. This is huge because it will cover the waitlist for the 2022-23 school year and the increase will help keep pace with the demand.
These are the highlights of the Governor’s bill, but he cannot file a bill. So, it is our hope that the Senate will take up the Governor’s bill.
The Home Education Foundation (HEF) is still trying to find the right language to amend onto the scholarship bill to make sure school districts know how to evaluate non-public school students with disabilities who have not been able to get an IEP. There are also a couple of other smaller amendments to the bill that HEF parents have asked HEF to get into the bill to expand the authorized uses of the scholarship funds.
President of The Home Education Foundation