Agudath Israel of America welcomed the decision by a subcommittee of Nevada’s Legislative Commission to approve the final regulations for the state’s new education Savings Account (ESA) program. The original bill SB 302 (Click here to see a copy of the bill) allowed up to $5700 of state funding to follow children to the school of their choice, but required students to first attend a public school for 100 days.Wednesday’s decision clarified that the legislative intent was to make an exception for students ages five to seven years old and children of active military personnel.
Agudath Israel has supported the removal of the 100-day requirement, especially for those who never attended school in the state. About thirty-five thousand new kindergarten students annually enter Nevada’s school system. If none of them were eligible for an ESA right away, it would place a greater burden on taxpayers and discourage private providers from creating new schools or expanding supply. Such a policy also unfairly penalizes parents who decide for their own reasons-academic, social, or religious-that the local public school is not the best choice for their children. With each passing year, tens of thousands of students will find themselves initially disqualified from a “universal” program that is paid for by their parents’ tax dollars!
Rabbi Mendy Levine, Executive Director of Yeshiva Day School of Las Vegas, testified at the hearing in support of the final rules and thanked the elected officials responsible for the passage of this important law. More than 4100 students have applied for an ESA, including dozens of students choosing Yeshiva Day School. Funding is expected to begin in February.