Excitement is building around Nevada’s Education Savings Account (ESA) Program, which will give eligible families about $5,000 a year to subsidize their child’s private or home school education.
But as the application process gets underway, many parents are also voicing a lot of confusion and frustration. For the latest on the situation, Reno Public Radio’s News Director Michelle Bliss reached out to State Treasurer Dan Schwartz whose office is running the program.
The passage of Senate Bill 302 last spring has brought the nation’s most comprehensive school choice law to Nevada by allowing families to use state funds to help pay for their children's private or homeschool education. Through the program, eligible kids will get about $5,000 a year.
"The view from 50,000 feet," Schwartz says, "is that we've spent billions of dollars on education, we don't have a lot to show for it, so we're going to give the parents a chance to make the education decisions for their kids."
Schwartz's office has received nearly 3,000 applications from families so far and interest remains high. One sticking point, though, is the program's so-called 100-day rule, which requires students to attend public school for 100 consecutive days before they can receive the funds.
"Truthfully, I just think the bill was poorly drafted," Schwartz says, "so I'm not sure the legislature or even the governor really thought through the implications."
Schwartz says a lot of kinks could be ironed out if Governor Brian Sandoval decides to hold a special session on this issue. There are rumors that Sandoval could call lawmakers into a special special any day now to discuss tax incentives for electric car company Faraday, and Schwartz says revising the ESA law could be added to that agenda.