DES MOINES, Iowa — It has been more than six months since Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed her school choice legislation. Now, the state is releasing numbers on how many students are utilizing private school scholarships.
According to the Iowa Department of Education, 18,627 students have been approved to receive $7,636 each to attend an accredited nonpublic school. That means that the state will be spending $142,235,772 on students’ tuition to private schools.
Back in early July, the state announced that 29,025 K-12 students applied for educational savings accounts (ESA). The Republican-led legislature had approved funding for only 14,000 savings accounts, which was budgeted around $107 million. The Iowa Department of Education said that there are less than 1,000 applications to approve or deny access to these funds.
“Governor Reynolds gave the special interests and private schools a huge bonus today. It’s just the first installment of her promise to shift over $1 billion of our tax dollars from public schools to private schools instead.”Iowa House Representative Sharon Steckman, (D) District 59 from Mason City
The department released new numbers Monday, showing how many students from each county are using these scholarships. Ninety-six out of 99 counties have at least one student approved for an account.
Polk County has the most with 3,144 students. Linn County is second with 1,318 and Scott County is not far behind with 1,306. You can view the full breakdown of how many students in a particular county are receiving state funds to go to private schools on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.
All students K-12 who switch from a public to private school were eligible to apply for an ESA. Students currently enrolled in private schools could apply for a scholarship this year if they were at or below $90,000 of a household income for a family of four.
If students do not provide proof of attending an accredited nonpublic school by September 30, the ESA account will be closed just for that school year. The department said that the final statistics will be available later this fall.