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Bill could grant Va. parents of special needs students education savings accounts

Virginia parents of special needs students who choose to remove their child from public schools could have access to Education Savings Accounts if a bill passed in the Va. House of Delegates Feb. 10 succeeds in the Senate, according to a release from Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33).

The bill, which received bipartisan support, would allow the accounts to be funded up to 90 percent of the state's share of the student's public school funding for other schooling outlets, including private school tuition, tutoring and higher education.

Education Savings Accounts are used in other states.

“Opening up new options for struggling special needs children can have a tremendous impact on their future, especially if they aren’t getting the services they need,” said LaRock in a statement. “These education savings accounts will be a useful tool in making sure that we fulfill our goal in giving a solid education to every child in Virginia.”

This article has been updated to clarify the bill has not yet passed through the Senate.


Another wastefull bill to help the few in Virginia. When will a lawmaker put forth a bill to help the majority????

This is a bad idea regardless of whether you support public schools or reduction of taxes. It can’t have any result other than hurting both.

The financial impact statement that goes along with LaRock’s bill explicitly states that it would divert the state’s portion of per-student costs – calculated based on actual public school enrollment – to cover the bill’s contributions for “at-risk” students who are not, will not, or had never been enrolled in Virginia public schools.

In other words, it doesn’t simply “let the money follow the student” out of the public schools: it takes additional money away from the schools and applies it instead to home-schooled and private school students who qualify in any way as being “at risk”. The net result is that it reduces the state’s contribution for each student who continues attending public school, and that ultimately increases the portion of their cost that localities such as Loudoun County must shoulder, e.g. through our real estate taxes.

As Sen. Dick Black (R-Loudoun) supports giving tax credits to “those who donate private- and parochial-school tuition to poor, middle-class and disabled students” (see 2015 SB 131), he will likely vote for HB 2238 when it hits the Senate as well.

It seems that our lawmakers have adopted the strategy of appealing to the heartstrings (who would deny helping poor, at-risk kids?!) in order to wrest funding away from our public schools however they can.

Meanwhile, unfunded mandates that the state imposes on public schools remain the same, so both bills present similar financial pressures – in the direction of hurting all taxpayers.

Whether you support public schools or decreasing rather than increasing local taxes, it doesn’t make sense to support either bill, because they increase the overall tax load of public schools on the local jurisdictions.

Any way you look at it, HB 2238 adds pressure to increase local taxes. It must be stopped, and Gov. McAliffe should be urged to veto SB 131 if possible.

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