Gov. Mike Parson took a decisive stand for students and families across Missouri by signing HB349 and SB86. These two bills combined will create the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program, finally giving thousands of Missouri families the power to choose a school that meets their children’s specific needs.
“For more than a decade students, parents, and teachers have been pleading for the right to choose the best education for their child,” said Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri’s (CEAM) executive director Laura Slay. “Today marks an historic victory for Missouri students desperate for better educational options.”
“On behalf of the thousands of parents who have worked to make this bill a reality, the CEAM team of staff and volunteers thank Gov. Parson for signing this historic legislation and putting students’ needs first,” Slay added. “While there are details of the program that will need to be worked out during the rulemaking process, today’s bill signing creates the framework for a system that will give families a wide variety of educational options for their children.”
Under the new program students with Individualized Education Plans(IEPs) or household income of up to 200 percent of the Free and Reduced Lunch eligibility rate who live in Jackson, St, Louis, Saint Charles, or Jefferson counties or a city with a population over 30,000 (including St. Louis City, Columbia, Jefferson City, Springfield, Joplin, Cape Girardeau, and St. Joseph) could receive an ESA scholarship of up to $6,375 for K-12 educational needs.
While ESA scholarships can be used to pay for private school tuition, the scholarships can also be used to cover homeschooling expenses, purchasing textbooks and education-related technology, tutoring and educational therapy costs, and even tuition to public charter schools and district schools outside of a student’s assigned school district.
The first scholarships are expected to be available for the 2022-23 school year.
“CEAM is dedicated to making sure that every family that qualifies for an ESA scholarship will have the knowledge and tools needed to take full advantage of this innovative program as soon as it is available to them,” said Slay.
To achieve this goal, the Children’s Education Alliance has launched a new website, ShowMeSchoolOptions.org, focused on providing families and potential donors with accurate information about the Empowerment Scholarship Account program. The website will be updated throughout the fall as details are finalized through the rulemaking process.
The Children’s Education Alliance is also planning a number of informational meetings across the state to inform parents about the new law and answer any questions that parents may have about how to participate.
Those meetings include (more will added to ShowMeSchoolOptions.org when details are finalized):
- Cape Girardeau ESA Scholarship Town Hall – Aug. 5, 6:00 PM at the Osage Center, 1625 N Kingshighway St, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
- Springfield ESA Scholarship Town Hall – Aug. 14, 2:00 PM at The Library Station, 2535 N Kansas Expy, Springfield, MO 65803
- Joplin ESA Scholarship Town Hall – Aug. 15, 2:00 PM at the Joplin Public Library, 1901 E 20th St, Joplin, MO 64804
- North St. Louis ESA Scholarship Town Hall – Aug. 14, 1:00 PM at the Divoll Branch Library, 4234 N Grand Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63107