ESA program considerations

SB 302 – Educational Savings Account (ESA) Bill

Considerable discussion has commenced over the summer on the new ESA Bill – SB 302. The State Treasurer has been charged by the Legislature as the “governing body” over implementation of this new “School Choice” program. To date, two workshops have been held by the Treasurer’s Office as they write regulations for the program.

NHN supports parents who choose to utilize the new ESA program. However, it must be noted that because this new school choice program is “publicly funded” it comes with “accountability measures” that make it more restrictive than some parents may want.

For parents who do not wish to receive money from the state for the education of their child, the Homeschool Law remains intact. Homeschool parents will continue to be able to take full responsibility for the education of their child FREE from government oversight.

There are many creative ways within the ESA Program for children to receive an education and this may be a viable option for some families in our state. However, as a “cost-savings measure” by the Legislature, eligibility for an ESA was limited to children “enrolled in a public school”. As a result, current private school and homeschool students are not eligible for the grant money but may become eligible by enrolling in a public/charter school “100 consecutive school days”. Once this requirement has been met parents may then apply for the ESA Grant and use a “Participating Entity” approved by the state to meet the compulsory school attendance law.

Parents considering this ESA program should be aware of the “accountability” requirements such as an annual standardized test being administered to an “Opt-in Child” by the “participating entity” providing the education. The test results must be reported to the State Treasure’s office for “review of academic progress” and the DOE for the “publishing of aggregate data” which may link these children to the State Longitudinal Data System. In addition, ESA Accounts will be audited by the State Treasurer’s office to review the “educational expenses” parents pay for with the account in an effort to prevent fraud and abuse.

To follow ongoing discussion on this topic we refer you to the NHN Facebook Page.

Parents wishing to learn more about an ESA Grant may refer to the NV State Treasurer’s website.

“HOMESCHOOLING” VS “HOME BASED EDUCATION”: IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?

Editor’s Note: 06/13/2017 –  The Nevada Legislature wrapped up their work on 6/5/2017 without funding the NV-ESA program.  SB 506 modified the 2015 program but consensus could not be reached. For details see our Self-funded Education Liberty vs. Public funded Education Choice (NV-ESA) post.
For now, while the ESA program remains in statute, there are no state finances allotted to the program and it is non-operational. The issue may or may not come up during the next Legislative Session in 2019… stay tuned.
Editor’s Note:  On Sept. 29, 2016 the Nevada Supreme Court ruled on two lawsuits brought against the NV ESA law,  16-30306 NV SC.Schwartz v. Lopez 09.29.16 .   The “funding mechanism” for the program being found unconstitutional the program has a permanent injunction on it.  A solution to the problem will need to be addressed by the 2017 Legislature.  9/29/16 Nevada Appeal

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8/23/2015 – the following describes the program passed in 2015 but never became a reality.

SB 302 – Educational Savings Account (ESA) Bill 

Considerable discussion has commenced on the new ESA Bill – SB 302. The State Treasurer has been charged by the NV Legislature as the “governing body” over implementation of this new “School Choice” program. To date, public workshops were held by the Treasurer’s Office in the writing of proposed regulations for the program.  However, two lawsuits were filed against the program and awaiting final decision from the Nevada Supreme Court; decision expected mid-summer, 2016.

As always, NHN supports parents no matter the education option they choose to educate their children whether it be via public school, private school, homeschool or now the ESA Grant Program. However, it must be stressed that this new “school choice” program is “publicly funded” and as such, comes with “accountability measures” that make it more restrictive than some parents may want in comparison to homeschool freedom. There are many things to consider in choosing which education option is best for your child.

  1. There are home based education programs already available to parents in this state that may look like homeschooling but simply are not the same under the law. These programs include; virtual charter schools (state sponsored, child receives education at home via internet classrooms), distance education (offered through the local public school, child receives education at home provide by the school district), and now an ESA Opt-in Child who receives their education from a “Participating Entity” approved by the State Treasurer and chosen by the parent. But in all these examples “accountability” to the government system of education prevails in some way.
  2. In the new ESA Grant Program, a Nevada private school, college program, private online school, certified tutor/tutoring agency or a parent may apply to become a “Participating Entity” and must be approved by the State Treasurer. There are “accountability measures” the Participating Entity must meet to continue in the program. A parent who becomes a Participating Entity may purchase curriculum with grant money and provide instruction to the child themselves but they also must meet the same accountability measures required of other Participating Entities. This is where the differences between this new form of “home based education” and “homeschooling” become legally significant.
  3. “HOMESCHOOLING” is for those parents who do not wish to receive money from the state, use a state approved program, nor be “accountable” to the state for the education of their child. For these families, the Homeschool Law remains intact. Parents of a Homeschool Child will continue to take full responsibility for the education of their child FREE from government oversight. Parents choosing to homeschool simply notify the local school district that they are homeschooling, there is no “approval” process.

There are many creative ways within the ESA Program for children to receive an education and this may be a viable option for some families in our state. However, as a “cost-savings measure” by the Legislature, eligibility for an ESA was limited to children enrolled in a public school. As a result, current private school and homeschool students are not eligible for the grant money but may become eligible by enrolling in a public/charter school “100 consecutive school days”. For a child who was previously homeschooled, the NOI to Homeschool on file with the local school district becomes null and void and the child becomes a public school student. Once the 100 day requirement has been met, parents may apply for the ESA Grant on behalf of the child and use a “Participating Entity” approved by the state for the education of the child. The child’s LEGAL school status is now an “Opt-in Child”, not a Homeschool Child

Parents considering the ESA program should be aware of the “accountability” requirements for the program such as an annual standardized test being administered to an “Opt-in Child” by the “participating entity” providing the education. The test results must be reported to the State Treasure’s office for “review of academic progress” (according to testimony provided by Senator Scott Hammond, sponsor of SB 302, to the Senate and Assembly Education Committees) and to the DOE for the “publishing of aggregate data” which may link these children to the State Longitudinal Data System. In addition, Education Savings Accounts will be audited annually by the State Treasurer’s office to review the “educational expenses” parents pay for with the account in an effort to prevent fraud and abuse.

To follow ongoing discussion on this topic we refer you to the NHN Facebook Page.

Parents wishing to learn more about an ESA Grant may refer to the NV State Treasurer’s website.

2015 Legislative Session

 

Dear Nevada Homeschoolers, 7/3/2015

NHN, once again, was very involved in this last legislature. Especially Barbara Dragon, who throughout the session almost single-handedly carried the weight of responsibility and action! Similar to a sports team there are times when the team is almost overwhelmed with injuries and rookies, and it’s the veteran who steps up to the plate at the most critical moments. Barb is our hero!

One issue that NHN worked on, that didn’t make it, is a privacy protection bill (SB 228) that declares that data belonging to and generated by a public, private or homeschool student belongs to that student, not to the government. NHN feels very strongly that this is critically important, and will continue to advance any efforts to get such a law passed. It is baffling sometimes to know how any legislator or anybody of any political persuasion (except those who advocate a totalitarian government) could oppose personal privacy. Clearly there are politicians who tell their constituents one thing, then vote the other way.

No doubt you’ve heard that Nevada has passed the most impressive, most amazing, law that allows parents to start an Educational Savings Account (ESA) for their child(ren). SB302 was a real challenge for NHN. Initially we opposed it because its initial wording blurred the lines between “true” homeschool parents who don’t want government money and the laws and regulations that accompany it, and those who are comfortable with accepting the money, laws and regulations. While we absolutely believe in parental choice in education, we also don’t want a law that forces regulations on freedom-loving individualistic homeschool families who are legally and effectively homeschooling their children. NHN worked with Senator Hammond, sponsor of SB302, who has been very supportive of homeschoolers. Our gratitude and thanks to Senator Hammond!

Our NHN website has been giving us fits lately, so right now I can’t give you a link to get more information. I’ll attach a document that NHN composed a couple of weeks ago that gives a thumb-nail sketch of what SB302 is (copied below). Essentially it is a new 4th type of legal schooling in Nevada: public, private, homeschooling, and an ESA opt-in child.

Also, below, I’d like to invite to read an article written January 6, 2011 by Dr. Brian Ray of NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute) entitled, What If? A Thought Experiment. NHN depends heavily on his research (as do most other homeschool advocacy groups and academics). I encourage you, if at all possible, to consider a donation to NHERI using the information below.

-Frank Schnorbus
Nevada Homeschool Network, Chairman

Statement of Explanation on SB 302 – Education Saving Account

An ESA Grant shall[1]be awarded to a qualified public school student whose parent enters into a written agreement with the State Treasurer[2]. This will be an ESA Grant “Opt-in Child”[3] and is not a homeschooled child[4]. The approved “participating entity”[5] from which the Opt-in Child will receive instruction[6] may be one or a combination[7] of the following:

  1. A “Grant School”, including;
    1. A licensed or exempt private school in this state[8];
    2. A private college or university, a state college or university, or a community college in this state[9];
    3. On-line schools that are not operated by the public school or the DOE[10];
  2. A “Grant Tutor”, which can be either a tutor or tutoring facility that is accredited[11]; or
  3. A “Grant Parent”
    1. Who has submitted to the school district or charter school in which the child was enrolled a Notice that the child is an approved ESA Grant Opt-in Child[12], and
    2. Complies with the requirements in SB 302 Section 12, Subsection 1, including ensuring that the child takes either a norm-referenced exam or an exam pursuant to NRS 389 in math and English language arts.

[1] SB 302 Sec. 11, Subsection 2

[2] SB 302 Sec. 7, Subsection 1

[3] SB 302 Sec. 15.1, Subsection 5 and Sec. 16.7, Subsection 1(c)

[4] SB 302 Sec. 7, Subsection 10 and Sec. 15.1, Subsection 3

[5] SB 302 Sec. 11, Subsection 1

[6] SB 302 Sec. 7, Subsection 1(a)

[7] SB 302 Sec. 7, Subsection 10; Sec. 8, Subsection 3; Sec. 9, Subsection 1(j); Sec. 11, Subsection 4; Sec. 15.1, Subsection 5

[8] SB 302 Sec. 11, Subsection 1(a)

[9] SB 302 Sec.11, Subsection 1(b) and Sec. 3.5, Subsections 1 and 2

[10]SB 302 Sec. 11, Subsection 1(c)

[11]SB 302 Sec. 11, Subsection 1(d)

[12]SB 302 Sec. 11, Subsection 1(e) and Sec. 16.4, Subsection 1