Friday, June 05, 2015

Nevada Enacts Expansive School Choice Legislation

As reported by the Las Vegas Review Journal, on Tuesday, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed SB 302 (full text) creating an extensive school choice program. The legislature gave final passage to the bill last week.  Under the bill, the parents of a child who has attended public school for 100 consecutive days may move the child to a private school (including a religious school), a tutoring facility or to home schooling and have the state pay into an educational savings account for the student an amount equal to 90% (or 100% for low-income and disabled) of the statewide average basic support per pupil. Currently 100% of the statewide average is about $5700.  The funds may be used for tuition, fees, textbooks, tutoring, testing and transportation.  A student may also be moved part-time to another educational facility and spend part-time in public school, receiving a partial grant. The Reno Gazette Journal has more details of the legislation. Payments under the new law will start Jan. 1, 2016.

Opponents of the legislation argued in part that the bill is unconstitutional because it allows taxpayer money to be spent on religiously-oriented private schools. The Nevada Constitution, Art. 11, Sec. 10, provides: "No public funds of any kind or character whatever, State, County or Municipal, shall be used for sectarian purpose."