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Georgia Expands Opportunities for Students to Access Schools That Best Meet Their Needs

Today Gov. Nathan Deal signed two bills that will help thousands of students find the best path to success in schools, careers and in life.

House Bill 217 expands Georgia’s successful tax credit scholarship program so thousands more students can participate. The program currently serves nearly 14,000 students.

House Bill 787 creates more funding parity among public schools with an estimated $18.6 million increase in funding for tens of thousands of students in public charter schools overseen by the State Charter Schools Commission, Georgia’s statewide charter authorizer.

“Georgia continues to strive toward developing innovative and focused solutions designed to help all students thrive in the classroom and in the workforce. Income and ZIP Code should not dictate a child’s odds of success,” said Gov. Jeb Bush, Chair of ExcelinEd. “By expanding and enhancing these life-changing educational opportunities, Georgia’s families and students will continue to benefit and build the state as a world-class environment for working, living and learning.”

HB 217, sponsored by Rep. John Carson, will help reduce long waiting lists in the decade-old tax credit scholarship program while also increasing transparency and accountability to taxpayers. The program is funded by donations from businesses and individuals who receive an equal amount as a state tax credit.

The legislation increases the cap on tax credits available under the program from $58 million to $100 million. By nearly doubling this amount, thousands of additional students can finally move from waiting lists to the school of their choice.

HB 787, sponsored by Rep. Scott Hilton, helps reduce the gap in funding between public charter schools and traditional public schools, with additional funds ideally following in future years. It boosts per-student funding, adds new capital funding, provides “forward funding” to cover the cost of significant growth and allows these schools to benefit from membership in Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs).

ExcelinEd appreciates the support of partners including Georgia CAN, the Georgia Center for Opportunity, the Georgia Chamber, the Georgia Charter Schools Association, the Georgia Independent Schools Association and many more.

For more on the power of educational opportunity, visit our policy library.