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?

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.

WEBSITE PROBLEMS

Regrettably we have had great difficulties with our website since the beginning of 2015.

1. You will note that the links to the last 4 articles posted on our Position Papers tab do not work.
2. We haven’t been able to post updates here on this Alerts tab since our last in April.

But we were, again, VERY busy during the 2015 Legislative Session. Hopefully, those of you on Facebook have followed all that we’ve been doing there, you can click the link to our Facebook page on our Home page.

We have spent the summer trying to get our website fixed and up and running with all the latest and greatest work of NHN. Bare with us as we continue to work out the bugs.

NHN Officers

Report on legislative bills NHN was tracking this year

SB 228 – Student Right to Privacy bill. NHN supported this bill. However, the Senate Education Committee was not willing to bring the bill for a vote and instead agreed to amend two protective sentences into another “student privacy bill”. A sentence declaring that a student’s personally identifiable information and data “belongs” to the student was amended into SB 463. SB 463 was passed by the Senate. However, this protective language was DELETED by amendment by the Assembly Education Committee as was other protective language in the bill. A very watered down version of SB 463 was passed by the Assembly and “concurred with” by the Senate.

SB 25 – NHN opposed Section 2 of the original bill that authorized the Superintendent to “coordinate education programs for children from “Birth to Prekindergarten” was deleted. A modified version of SB 25 was passed and signed by the Governor. See “As Enrolled” by clicking the bill number.

SB 126 – NHN opposed language calling for “regulation and evaluation” of “any early childhood education and prekindergarten programs at both private and public schools”. NHN also opposed language in the bill allowing public school officials to “conduct a survey AT THE HOME of child whose primary language is not English”. In both cases the problematic language was removed by amendment. However, the amended bill was never brought for a vote and “died” in committee.

SB 117 – A bill adding two new vaccinations required for “school enrollment” also died in committee.

AB 221 – This bill does not affect homeschooling but was a “companion” bill to SB 463. The bill was intended to protect public school student information and data collected by the public school, the school district and the Department of Education but in reality was only a “sunshine bill”; meaning the DOE and local school districts must tell parents what info/data is being collected on their child and allow for “corrections” to the information/data to be made, as requested by the parent or student over the age of 18. Here again, there were many amendments houses to this bill before it was eventually passed and signed into law by the Governor.

SB 302 – The Educational Savings Account (ESA) bill made a surprise appearance on April 3rd. The bill was scheduled for hearing just before the deadline for bills to be heard in committee (if not heard they die). It was a “surprise” because the original bill was nearly totally rewritten by the sponsor of the bill, Senator Hammond, just prior to the meeting. NHN Officers had gone on record with Senator Hammond requesting that he protect HOMESCHOOL FREEDOM. However, although NHN Officers had been in constant contact with Senator Hammond on other bills he never informed us of his intent to use the homeschool law as a “vehicle” for students to receive tax-payer money from the state and the “controls” that go with it. Thankfully, Elissa Wahl was in attendance the day of the hearing and “opposed” the bill as written. NHN was able to work with Senator Hammond to protect those parents who DO NOT wish to receive money from the state. More information on the effect of this bill to be posted.