Catholic Education Partners

Catholic Education Partners

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Virginia Expands School Choice to Pre-K Students

Legislation to expand Virginia’s school choice program was signed into law this week.

Felicia Pricenor, Associate Director for the Virginia Catholic Conference, told Catholic Education Partners, “The passage of the bill is a big victory for thousands of unserved children and for parental choice in education in Virginia.”

“The bill expands Virginia's Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit program to enable low-income preschool children to be eligible for these scholarships in localities where there are no public school options,” Ms. Pricenor explained.

Under the existing EISTC program, individuals and businesses are able to claim a tax credit for donations to scholarship granting organizations that provide K-12 tuition support to students with an individualized education plan (IEP) or from households earning less than 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

According to CEP’s survey of choice program impact on Catholic school enrollment, 38% of EISTC students (1,312 of 3,433) made the choice of a Catholic education in the 2017-18 school year, earning average scholarships of $3,438.

The expanded law will allow 4-year-old students who are unable to find a placement at government-run facilities to access a pre-k program of choice. Ms. Pricenor added that the new law, “will support Virginia’s Catholic school community in its efforts to provide more educational opportunities for at-risk children. This is an example of a public-private partnership that ensures no child is penalized based on their zip code. The law will now allow families of younger economically disadvantaged children to jump-start their education, leading to better kindergarten readiness, and a long term positive impact on children’s lives.”

To learn more about the Virginia Catholic Conference, visit VACatholic.org

Greg Dolan