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NKY Legislators Opposing School Choice12 Mar

Northern Kentucky is one of the most pro-educational choice regions in the Bluegrass State.  Unfortunately, it has been brought to our attention that both Rep. Ed Massey (Hebron) and Rep. Kim Banta (Ft. Mitchell) have made statements in opposition to educational choice legislation HB 350.  Further, I have received numerous emails from people concerned about the bill based on the claim made by Rep. Banta that it includes harmful mandates on nonpublic schools. This is false and it is time to set the record straight.

HB 350 would increase charitable donations to nonprofit Scholarship Granting Organizations (“SGO”).  If a family wants to attend a nonpublic school and has a financial need, they could apply for aid to the SGO.  In addition to tuition assistance, the program would include aid for students with special needs so that they can receive a more customized education. 

HB 350 does not include new mandates on nonpublic schools.  In fact, the bill explicitly maintains the independence of nonpublic schools and says that participation in the program does not give the state power to regulate the “admissions, staffing, tuition or fees, specific instructional content, academic standards or assessments, curricula, or program of instruction”. A complete copy of the bill can be found here.
 
Rep. Banta has claimed that the bill mandates that a nonpublic school must accept all students with special needs regardless of whether the school has the resources to serve them. This is not true. In fact, this is not even true of public schools. 
 
When asked for the basis of this claim, Rep. Banta has pointed to a section of the bill dealing with the SGO’s. The SGO’s are not schools. The section says that the SGO’s must provide at least a majority of scholarships to students from families with income below reduced lunch eligibility or students with special needs or students in the foster care system. After this requirement is met, the SGO can provide means-tested aid to families making no more than 200% above reduced lunch ($78,922 for a family of three and higher for larger families).
 
None of this creates a mandate on nonpublic schools. Families who receive aid will have more options than they currently enjoy. Schools will have the opportunity to serve more students as financial barriers are lifted for families.
 
It is important to note that while HB 350 does not include mandates on nonpublic schools, we are involved in this effort because our schools are mission driven institutions. Our schools educate students from a variety of financial backgrounds and the Diocese of Covington currently serves 1,021 students with diagnosed disabilities. We want to serve more students.
 
Educational choice should be a right for all families, regardless of their financial need.  HB 350 would be a step in the right direction.  If you agree, please reach out to Rep. Massey and Rep. Banta and encourage them to change their minds.  A message can be left by phone at 1-800-372-7181 or at their email addresses below:
 
kim.banta@lrc.ky.gov  
ed.massey@lrc.ky.gov

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