By David Bass
Two of the Tar Heel State’s school choice programs have saved taxpayers between $74.1 million and $154.3 million through fiscal 2018, according to an updated analysis from the school choice advocacy organization EdChoice.
Those figures translate to between $3,373 and $7,022 in local and state taxpayer savings for each student enrolled in these programs.
“These savings result from many of the students who exercised choice who would have been enrolled in a public school if these choice programs did not exist — and enrolled in public schools at a much larger taxpayer cost,” wrote Martin F. Lueken, director of the Fiscal Research and Education Center at EdChoice.
For the 40 school choice programs across the U.S., the cumulative impact in cost savings is between $12.4 billion and $28.3 billion in net savings for local and state taxpayers.
In North Carolina, Opportunity Scholarships are valued at up to $4,200 a year and help low- and moderate-income families send their children to private school. Due to a significant expansion included in the new state budget, the scholarships will now be worth up to $5,900 annually. They also will be expanded to new families due to an increased income threshold needed to qualify.
Through the current school year, the Children with Disabilities Grant Program provides up to $8,000 a year for students with special needs to help defray the cost of tuition, specialized treatment, and therapies or equipment. Under the new budget, the grant program is now combined with the Education Savings Account, funded at more than $31 million beginning with the 2022-23 school year.
“The beauty of school choice is that there are so many wins,” said Mike Long, president of school-choice advocacy organization Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina. “It levels the playing field for families seeking educational opportunity, it funds students not systems, it empowers parents who know what’s best for their child, it saves taxpayers’ money, it reduces overcrowded classrooms, and it ensures economic equality for all. I am thankful that North Carolina continues to be a school choice leader for the nation.”