SB 841
Establishes the Education Savings Account Program
Sponsor:
LR Number:
4043S.01I
Committee:
Last Action:
1/20/2022 - Second Read and Referred S Education Committee
Journal Page:
Title:
Calendar Position:
Effective Date:
July 1, 2023

Current Bill Summary

SB 841 - This act establishes the Education Savings Account Program.

Under this act, elementary and secondary students eligible to attend public school the previous semester or starting school for the first time qualify for the program if their household income does not exceed two times the income level to qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Students who qualify shall continue to qualify until they graduate high school or reach age twenty-one. (Section 166.610)

A parent of an eligible child may create an education savings account. The Educational Savings Account Program Fund is established consisting of monies appropriated by the General Assembly for the purpose of funding grants into education savings accounts.

Parents participating in the program shall agree to use the funds in their child's account for certain qualifying expenses, as defined in the act.

This act establishes an order of priority for payments into education savings accounts if the number of eligible students with education savings accounts prevents fully funding the program.

Funds deposited into such accounts shall not constitute Missouri taxable income. (Section 166.620)

This act establishes certain duties and authority for the State Treasurer in connection with education savings accounts.

The Treasurer shall qualify private financial management firms to manage such accounts, shall conduct or contract for random annual audits, and may conduct or contract for further account audits.

The Treasurer may find any parent ineligible to participate in the program based on substantial misuse of account funds and may refer such cases to law enforcement agencies if there is evidence of fraud.

The Treasurer shall provide certain information, as described in the act, about the program to parents of participating students.

The Treasurer may deduct up to three percent of program grants to cover costs and administrative expenses, shall establish reasonable fees for the private management of accounts, and shall make payments to eligible accounts each semester. (Section 166.630)

This act requires participating private schools to comply with certain existing health, safety, and antidiscrimination laws and policies. Such schools shall conduct criminal background checks on employees and exclude from employment anyone not permitted to work in a private school under state law and anyone who might reasonably pose a safety threat to students.

Participating schools must provide parents with a receipt for all qualifying expenses. Schools receiving fifty thousand dollars or more from education savings accounts shall demonstrate by means specified in the act that the school can repay the funds if so required.

Participating parents shall ensure that their student takes annual standardized tests meeting requirements described in the act, that results from such testing and certain student demographic information are provided to the state, and that the Treasurer is informed of the student’s graduation from high school.

The Treasurer shall ensure compliance with all student privacy laws, shall collect all test results, and shall provide certain data to the public via a website beginning after the third year of data collection.

The Treasurer shall administer annual parent satisfaction surveys for participating parents covering certain topics as described in the act.

This act provides that participating private schools are autonomous and are not agents of state or federal governments. No state agency or officer shall regulate the educational program of participating private schools or education providers. The program does not expand the regulatory authority of the state, its officers, or school districts over private schools or education providers beyond what is necessary to enforce program requirements. Participating private schools and education providers shall be given maximum freedom to provide for students’ education needs. (Section 166.640)

Under this act, the Treasurer shall ensure that eligible students and their parents are informed annually of the schools participating in the program, with special attention to informing lower-income families.

The Treasurer shall create a standard form for participating in the program, which is to be readily available from various sources, including the internet.

This act provides the Treasurer authority to bar schools and education providers from participating in the program based on factors described in the act. (Section 166.650)

Under this act, resident school districts shall provide complete student records to students attending schools or education providers through the program. Resident school districts shall provide transportation to eligible students to participating schools and education providers to the same extent such district would be required to provide transportation for students to private schools, and such districts shall qualify for state transportation aid for each student so transported.

(Section 166.660)

This act shall become effective on July 1, 2023.

This act is identical to SCS/SB 296 (2021) and similar to SCS/SB 55, 23, & 25 (2021), SB 30 (2021), SB 707 (2020), SS/SCS/SB 160 (2019), HB 34 (2019), HCS/HB 478 (2019), SB 612 (2018), SS#2/SCS/SB 313 (2017) and to provisions contained in SCS/SB 32 (2017), SB 609 (2016), SB 531 (2015), HCS/HBs 1589 (2016), and HCS/HB 2307 (2016).

KITTY ENGLER

Amendments

No Amendments Found.