Nebraska students whose open enrollment application is denied would get another option under a new bill, which is one of many school choice measures under consideration in the state Legislature.
LB 528 would offer reimbursement for tuition and fees for such students to attend private or parochial schools.
The funding would be based on the previous year’s average per-pupil costs to the state, drawn from the $125 million-dollar annual option enrollment funding.
LB 528 is one of several bills this legislative session attempting to expand educational choices for families. Open enrollment already allows Nebraska students to apply to a school besides their locally zoned public school, but requires the approval of the new school.
A related measure, LB 550, would allow students to change schools at any point during the year without limit, and eliminate the need for students to gain permission to do so. Both LB 550 and 528 had hearings on Tuesday.
Another bill, LB 753, would offer scholarships for students to use for parochial or private schools, funded by donations which are eligible for tax credits.
Opponents repeatedly complain that giving students tax dollars to attend non-government schools has a negative impact on public education funding.
Supporters argue it’s unfair to force parents to take on the burden of private school tuition in addition to the taxes they already pay for public schools, simply to rescue their child from a failing school, or one that isn’t a good fit.
Many families who can’t afford both say they shouldn’t be made to accept a lower quality education for their children just because the government has withholding privileges on their paychecks.
Each of the three measures have advanced out of committee and are headed for floor debate in coming weeks.