ESA Funding Faces Fight in February - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

ESA Funding Faces Fight in February

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The proposed funding for the Nevada Education Savings Account program faces a big fight in February, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem open to reaching a compromise.

The Nevada Supreme Court ruled that the program itself is constitutional, but the original funding mechanism was not, which means the state would have to appropriate the money. To remedy the issue, Governor Brian Sandoval proposed $60 million over the next two years to fund the accounts.

Parents would get between most or all of the money that the state would spend on their student at a public school, to use toward other education options. The state would give 90% (an estimate of $5,196 for the 2016-2017 school year) or 100% (An estimate of $5,774 for the 2016-2017 school year) for low-income or disabled students, to parents. The money can be used for private school tuition, distance education, tutors, curriculum, exam fees, therapy for students with disabilities, and account management fees (for administration).

Democrats is the state legislature say the school voucher program is the wrong priority for kids. In his response the Governor Sandoval's address, Senator Aaron Ford says, "It is not fair to Nevada families to divert our limited resources towards private schools. Any amount of money directed toward a voucher program will result in less money being made available to public schools."

State treasurer Dan Schwartz says $60 million isn't enough. In a statement released Tuesday, he said, "We, of course, appreciate the Governor including $60 million towards funding ESAs in his remarks today," Schwartz said. "The number is low; especially considering all those parents that we believe will apply once the uncertainty is removed. The Treasurer's Office looks forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature in making parental choice a reality and improving K-12 education in Nevada."

Both sides of the aisle know there will be a fight over ESA's in the 2017 Legislative Session, but both seem open to reaching a compromise. 

"$60 million dollars for the ESA's," says Assemblyperson Jim Wheeler (R- Deputy Minority Leader) "And I think that's a hill to die for and that's where we're going to be."

"Anything that takes away options for students who may not be able to take advantage of certain programs is a concern of ours," says Assemblyperson Jason Frierson (D - Speaker Designate) "We'll have to get into the details of it and see where we are..."

To see the ESA parent handbook, click here.

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