Iowans pack Statehouse to share thoughts on governor’s school choice bill

Iowans had their first opportunity to speak directly to lawmakers about Governor Kim Reynolds' school choice bill.
Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 7:11 AM CST
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DES MOINES, IOWA (KCCI) - Iowans had their first opportunity to speak directly to lawmakers about Governor Kim Reynolds’ school choice bill.

This is the third year the governor has introduced the bill to the legislature. So far, it’s never made it past the House. This year’s bill is an expanded version of the previous ones.

It would give any family with a K-12 student who wants to switch from public to private school around $7,600 from the state. That’s the average amount of taxpayer dollars the state invests in each student.

The money usually goes towards public school districts, but under the school choice bill, it would go directly to families to pay for tuition, tutoring, and textbooks.

The bill does set some new money aside for public schools. They would get around $1,200 for every student in their area who attends private school.

Former Carlisle School Board Member Samantha Fett spoke at Thursday’s hearing in support of the bill.

“We spend 56% of our total budget on public education and somehow [the] perception is that public schools are underfunded. Based on that number, I disagree,” she said. “The governor said in her speech that other states do better with less. School choice will not defund public schools. This is a win-win for both entities.”

Right now, about 33,000 Iowa students attend private school. That’s about six percent.

If passed, the bill would be phased in over three years. The program would eventually be available to all families regardless of income.

By year 3, the program could cost the state $256 million a year.