New Scholarships Empower Missouri Families to Make Education Choices
JEFFERSON CITY – On Saturday, Aug. 28, years of work by Missouri lawmakers and education reform advocates culminated as House Bill 349, which created the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program, became effective. The law, sponsored by Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters, will provide up to $50 million in tax credit-funded scholarships annually that parents of qualifying K-12 students can use to pay for public or private school tuition, books and educational materials, tutoring or assistive services.
The scholarship accounts are specifically targeted toward students with learning disabilities or who come from a low-income background as the traditional school environment is not always best suited to meet individual students’ unique learning needs. The availability of scholarships is tied directly to new state investments in public school funding. The ESA program will be administered by the state treasurer and individual scholarship accounts will be managed by nonprofit educational organizations.
House Speaker Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold; Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia; and bill sponsors Rep. Christofanelli and Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester; issued the following joint statement:
“With everything happening in our schools today, parents and students need educational choice now more than ever. There is no greater tool to break the cycles of crime and poverty and to create good jobs and thriving communities—than a quality education. Less than half of Missouri students are performing at grade-level in reading and math—clearly the traditional one-size-fits-all approach just isn’t working. It’s time to empower Missouri parents to make the educational choices that will best meet their children’s unique needs. This ESA program is a long-overdue step in the right direction. We look forward to working with the state treasurer’s office to quickly implement this program so that scholarships are available for the 2022 school year.”
For more information, please contact Stuart Murray, Senate Majority Caucus Communications Director. (573) 522-7973 — Stuart.Murray@senate.mo.gov