Legislators vote to pass bill expanding education savings account eligibility
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Legislators in Kansas have voted to pass a bill that would allow for more eligibility in education savings accounts as well as increased salaries for teachers.
On Wednesday, March 15, the Kansas House of Representatives voted to pass House Substitute for Senate Bill 83 with a 64-61 vote.
H Sub for SB 83 would allow appropriations for the state department of education for Fiscal Year 2024. It would establish the Sunflower Education Equity Act to provide education savings accounts for qualified students as well as require districts to provide a salary increase to all licensed teachers.
The bill would allow students who fit the following criteria to qualify for education savings include preschool students three-four years of age who have a form verified by the treasurer. It also requests the State Treasurer to oversee the program instead of a board.
The savings accounts would allow money to be saved and only spent on the following:
- Tuition or fees charged by qualified schools or online learning programs
- Textbooks or other supplies
- Educational therapies or services provided by a licensed provider
- Tutoring services
- Curriculum materials
- Uniforms as required for attendance
- Contracted services from a public school district
- Fees for nationally standardized achievement tests
- Fees required to apply for or acquire occupational licenses
- Fees for transportation services approved by the treasurer
- Computer hardware and tech used for educational purposes
- Other education expenses approved by the treasurer
Athletic training or coaching and tutoring by a family member are specifically not covered by the accounts. The bill now also adds private school students to the list of those eligible.
The bill was requested for introduction by Stephen Duerst, Federico Duerst Consulting Group, and was introduced to the Senate in January when it was referred to the Committee on Education. From there, amendments were made and at the end of February, the Senate passed the bill with a 22-16 vote.
SB 83 was then passed to the House and referred to the Committee on K-12 Education Budget where a hearing was held. The Committee recommended the substitute bill be passed and the House then held its vote. The bill will now be sent to the Senate for consideration with the new amendments.
“I’m beyond disappointed in the short-sightedness of some of my colleagues today but recognize what a slim vote it was. We know for a fact that vouchers are detrimental to public education systems. How could they not be? Every voucher sucks money right out of classrooms and away from the public good,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Valdenia Winn (D-Kansas City). “I’m beyond disappointed in the short-sightedness of some of my colleagues today but recognize what a slim vote it was. We know for a fact that vouchers are detrimental to public education systems. How could they not be? Every voucher sucks money right out of classrooms and away from the public good.
To read the full text of the legislation, click HERE.
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