open the schools legislation

Hi, it’s Codi Galloway, and I’m here today to talk to you about education. I promised to do my best to improve education in Idaho, and it starts today with a bill that I’m bringing forward that asks school boards and school districts to open the schools to full-time in-person learning for those who choose to be in the schools.

Now, this does nothing to those who are in online school or virtual school and are happy in that situation. They’re just fine.

Anyone that wants to be in in-person full-time learning should have that option. What this bill says is it encourages our schools to open up and if they choose not to open up, then it gives the parents the option to withdraw their student and then receive a reimbursement check for the amount of money that the student would have in that school. Then the parents can take that money and they can spend it on a myriad of allowable educational expenses.

Our goal is to get the schools open and get kids back in school, but if that is impossible for any reason, it allows parents and option to be able to have that money that they’ve paid into the system to be able to have it returned to them so that they can educate their children in the best way that they see fit.

Open Schools FAQ

What does this bill do?
This bill encourages schools to offer full-time, in-person instruction.  If a school is unable to provide full-time, in-person instruction, this legislation allows the parent or guardian to withdraw their student from the school. Upon withdrawal, the parent will receive a payment to use toward eligible education expenses.

What is an eligible education expense?
Parents or guardians can their payment on a variety of allowable education expenses including; computer hardware, tuition at a private school, tutoring, tutoring, textbooks, curriculum, therapies, etc.

My kid is doing well in remote school, will this end that?
No.  you will continue to have the option to attend online school, IDLA, your districts virtual school, or an online charter.  Schools currently online will not be changed in any way by this legislation.

It seems many school districts are opening up anyway, is this bill necessary?
We applaud their intent to move forward with full-time, in-person instruction.  We have made every effort to align our start date (April 1st) and definition (4 days can be full-time) to follow their lead.  We want to be partners with our teacher and school boards and support them in their plan to get kids back in school. 

Will our schools run out of money if parents can be reimbursed?
No. state law protect schools from huge enrollment swings.  In addition, schools have received tremendous amounts of money from the federal government COVID stimulus packages and more is likely coming. 

What if the health crisis gets worse?
We hope things continue to improve, but should they get worse, this legislation allows families to immediately pivot to an education that works best for them.  Should full-time, in-person instruction be impossible, this legislation provides a clear path forward that focuses on the individual student.

Is in-person school safe?
Yes, it is safe for the majority of our kids to be in school.  Studies have shown kids do not get or pass the virus with any significance. With a working vaccine provided to all teachers and staff, we should be on our way back to school.     For those in unique circumstances who feel unsafe at school, there are many online options to choose from.

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