After passing through the House with a 66-52 vote and the Senate with a 31-17 vote, Governor Pat McCrory has signed a state budget that includes school choice milestones for North Carolina.
“Thousands of our neediest students will have access to additional schools that could potentially best meet their needs. This was accomplished, in large part, due to the determination of legislators on both sides of the aisle and their willingness to roll up their sleeves and find a way to get it done. For that, we thank them,” said Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina President Darrell Allison.
“Thousands of children from low-income and working-class families will have the chance to reroute their educational destinies because of Opportunity Scholarships,” said Allison. Parents will be able to take advantage of the $4,200 scholarship for the 2014-15 school year and funding for the Opportunity Scholarship program will come from the state’s general fund, not the public education budget. North Carolina will become the 10th state in the nation with a direct state allocation school choice program.
“In addition, Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grants eliminates financial barriers that previously existed for many families,” said Allison. “The simple, but powerful, act of converting the 2011 tax credit to a scholarship means more of our low-income and working-class families can access critical special needs services for their children.” Per funding allocations in the budget, the Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grants is set to begin reimbursing families for education costs up to $6,000 per year starting in 2014.
“There is no doubt these measures are milestones for North Carolina, but as evidenced by the success of school choice programs in other states, we know more will be needed in the near future so that no child will have their education shortchanged due to lack of availability.”
“But make no mistake about it that this legislative session, North Carolina’s voice was heard loud and clear around the nation that she intends to chart a more comprehensive educational course in how we will educate our neediest children. Passage of these two scholarship measures amid continued public charter school expansion means parents will have more options within the K-12 process regardless of their income or zip code,” said Allison.