With the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, this was a short week for lawmakers. On Wednesday, Senate Education Committee Chair Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton) introduced two of the governor’s priority education bills. SSB 1064 would require all public and private schools to offer 100% in-person instruction for students. Schools would also be allowed to continue offering online or hybrid instruction in addition to the in-person option. However, in the event of a coronavirus outbreak, school districts would still be allowed to apply for a waiver through the Iowa Department of Education. The bill would take effect shortly after enactment through June 30. Parents would have at least five days to choose their preferred method of instruction.
Meanwhile, Sinclair also put SSB 1065 forward for consideration. Among other things it would establish a Student First scholarship program that would allow students in struggling public schools to attend private schools. The legislation doesn’t lay out specific funding levels for scholarship awards. In addition, SSB 1065 would make it easier for school districts and independent groups to establish non-religious charter schools. These schools would be funded by moving the tax dollars allocated for each charter school student from the traditional public school to the charter institution. Finally, the bill would allow students living in school districts with either voluntary or court-ordered diversity plans to open enroll in another district.
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