First Universal ESA Program in the Nation Awaits Nevada Governor’s Signature

Published May 29, 2015

On Friday, May 29, the Nevada State Assembly voted to create the first universal education savings account (ESA) program for K-12 students in the country. If Senate Bill 302 becomes law parents could opt their children into the ESA program and use funding for a variety of approved educational options, including private school tuition, tutoring, textbooks and therapies. Most students would receive 90 percent of the per-pupil funding allotted to students statewide, which is approximately $5,000. Low-income and special need students opted in would receive 100 percent of the state’s per-pupil funding. To be eligible for the ESA program, children would have to attend public school for at least 100 days before using funding granted through the proposed ESA program.

“We are thrilled that Nevada will soon be added to the list of states that offer multiple options and innovative school choice programs to families,” Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children (AFC) said in a press release. “Today’s vote by the Nevada Assembly is a victory for students throughout Nevada who await access to an education tailored to their needs. We would like to thank Senator Scott Hammond for his bold leadership in sponsoring this bill as well as the Nevada State Assembly and State Senate for their commitment to offering quality educational options to students and serving their unique educational needs.”

In the same press release issued by the AFC, Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas) noted the ability of the proposed ESA program to provide parents with options to find the best educational opportunities for their individual child. 

“As a 15 year public school teacher I know personally that one size doesn’t fit all,” Hammond said. “Students today are most successful when they can customize their educational experience to meet their unique needs and this bill provides that opportunity for all Nevada families.”

The bill passed in the Nevada State Senate earlier this week and now awaits Gov. Brian Sandoval’s signature.

Heather Kays ([email protected]) is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of School Reform News.

Image by woodleywonderworks.