The application period for the Arkansas Succeed Scholarship Program (passed in 2015) is now open. This groundbreaking program empowers parents of students with special needs by providing them a scholarship to a private school of their choice that best meets the learning needs of their children. Up to 100 Arkansas students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) can apply for the 2016-2017 school year.
On July 1, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law HB 69, the supplemental state budget for fiscal year 2017. HB 69 provides an additional $4 million for the Louisiana Scholarship Program (vouchers), bringing the total appropriation to $40 million. Funding for school choice programs was in jeopardy during the state’s regular and special sessions. However, the final appropriation represents a restoration of all but $2 million in existing funding for voucher programs, during a significantly challenging fiscal year in Louisiana.
Mississippi’s Special Needs Education Scholarship Account (ESA) program grew by 70 percent for the upcoming school year. For the program’s second year of operation, the Mississippi Department of Education awarded a total of 425 scholarships, its maximum number, to students who have an IEP, to be used for a variety of essential education expenses, including tuition and fees, textbooks, therapy, etc. In addition to the increase in enrollment, the number of approved scholarship applications increased by more than 120 percent.
The Nevada Supreme Court will hear two lawsuits challenging Nevada’s landmark Education Savings Account (ESA) legislation today, Friday, July 29. Nevada’s ESA program is the most expansive educational choice program in the nation, giving all public school parents the funding to select schools, tutors and other approved education services for their children, including necessary therapies for students with disabilities.
On July 14, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed into law HB 1030, the amended 2016-17 state budget. The budget features a strong emphasis on education reform, including:
- A two-year pilot program providing $5 million in incentives for teachers whose students pass AP or IB courses or earn high-quality industry certifications;
- A two-year pilot program providing $10 million in bonuses for the top 25 percent of third grade reading teachers;
- Protection of $20 million in existing funds for summer reading camps for first and second grade students;
- An additional $5.8 million to more than double the special needs voucher program to $10 million a year; and
- $34.8 million to forward-fund the low-income voucher program, plus an additional $10 million a year for the program.