Governor Ducey and the Republican legislature passed the Universal ESA Program for Arizona families. Thank you to all of them for bringing to Arizona families this amazing opportunity.
Here is a copy of a statement sent from the Arizona Department of Education on July 8.
"On June 24th, the Arizona State Legislature passed H.B. 2853, which expands the Empowerment Scholarship Account Program. On July 7th, the Governor signed the bill which has an anticipated effective date of September 24th."
Here is a quote from the website "School Choice Arizona"
"This afternoon, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed the nation's first universal Education Savings Account (ESA) program into law, creating the most expansive school choice initiative in the nation.
House Bill 2853, sponsored by Representative Ben Toma, allows ESA's to be available to all 1.1 million+ K-12 students in Arizona. This landmark legislation incorporates other important reforms to the program, including allowing families to use ESA funds for transportation, computers, and other education-related expenses. Arizona’s ESA program allows parents to receive scholarships by re-directing their current education tax dollars for expenses, such as private school tuition, resources for schooling at home, online curriculum, education therapies, tutoring, and more. The ESA amount is expected to be approximately $7,000 per student per year when the bill takes effect later this fall." Great news. But, this law is not out of the proverbial woods yet.
Here is a copy of a letter sent out by Steve Yarbrough, the executive director of ACSTO. "Hello ACSTO Partner Schools,
As expected, Gov. Ducey signed the Universal ESA bill (HB 2853) on July 7. School choice advocates across the nation are praising Arizona for this bold move to allow education funding to follow students, not systems.
Also as expected, the anti-school choice group Save our Schools (SOS) has announced the launch of their petition signature campaign to refer the bill to the voters. If SOS submits the required number of signatures by September 24, 2022, enactment of the bill will be suspended and validation of the signatures will begin. If it is determined that there are at least 118,823 valid signatures, then the bill will be referred to the next General Election ballot, which would probably be in 2024. If enough valid signatures are not gathered, then the Universal ESA law will go into effect.
As we wait to see how things play out, please consider the following:
We recommend you “decline to sign” the referral petition if you are asked to sign it, and that you encourage your school community to do the same. As many of you know, Universal ESAs have the potential to grow enrollment at your school and encourage new Christian Schools to take root. They will give countless Arizona families the freedom to choose where and how their students are educated without financial circumstances deterring their decisions.
Since the fate of Universal ESAs is unclear for at least the next 80 days or so, we suggest that your school wait to implement plans for increased enrollment or tuition changes that are based on the expectation of Universal ESA funding.
We do recommend families continue to use STOs to assist with tuition costs. Tax credit scholarships remain in full effect. In addition, the existing ESA Program continues to operate as usual for those students who qualify.
We sent a similar communication to parents as well. We will keep you updated. If you have any questions, please give us a call at 480.820.0403.
P.S. There is a Facebook page that people can visit for updates and more information:https://www.facebook.com/Decline-To-Sign-Campaign-105319268914855
You can also email email@example.com to learn more about engaging in this campaign."
A lot will happen between today and September 24. The general consensus is if there are enough signatures to force a vote of the voters, then the funds will not be able to be used until the voters pass it in 2024.
At this time we will not be accepting students in the hope of a universal ESA. This being our second year, we are still at the break-even point financially each month and do not have the financial means to carry families if the signatures come through,
Praise for God's goodness in supporting families with educational choices for their children. Prayer that the law would go through in September.
I will make adjustments to this blog page as changes arrive.