Bill Description: House Bill 293 allows students to take their education tax dollars to an alternative education provider if their public school does not provide full-time in-person instruction for a minimum of four days per week.
Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function or activity of government? Conversely, does it eliminate or curtail the size or scope of government?
This bill returns education tax dollars spent per student to families if their public school is not open for full time, in-person instruction at least 4 days per week. Parents can use these funds for other education expenses suited to their child’s needs. These alternate expenses could include but are not limited to tuition and fees at a private school, tutoring, or therapy services.
In the last year, Idaho public schools closed for in-person instruction for many months. For example, Boise public schools were recently closed in November 2020 and did not start a return to full-time in-person instruction until March 9, with secondary school students not returning until March 29. This means students were kept from attending school in-person, full time for four months. Keeping schools closed has hurt students' academic performance and caused rising levels of depression and anxiety among children. Meanwhile, Idaho private schools have remained open for full-time instruction and kept students and faculty safe during the pandemic.
Under this bill, students and families who desired full-time, in-person instruction could have their needs met when public schools fail to adapt to the changing circumstances of COVID-19. Families should have this option even when public schools are open, as education tax dollars should support students, not a particular institution. Overall, House Bill 293 is a step toward funding students directly instead of a system that does not meet student and family needs. This curtails the scope of government in education by giving families more options to educate their children.
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