Private school staff members react to Iowa “School Choice” law

Iowa families are now able to use taxpayer funds to pay for private school tuition.
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 4:35 PM CST
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MASON CITY, Minn. (KTTC) – Iowa families are now able to use taxpayer funds to pay for private school tuition after Governor Kim Reynolds signed the School Choice bill into law Tuesday.

The bill would create taxpayer funded education savings accounts for students who attend a private, accredited school. Parents could use the money for things like tuition, textbooks and tutoring.

Private school “Newman Catholic” in Mason City currently has 580 students in K-12. School leaders say the law is a great move for families and opens doors for them to choose what is best for their child.

Newman administrators say it’s too earlier to tell exactly how the law will impact the school, but they’ve already had a few inquiries about enrollment.

“To keep those class numbers down, we’ve added teachers. We’ve already, even prior to the ESA coming into law, we were already looking at another kindergarten teacher for next year based on what we anticipated numbers to be. This will just probably help with that process,” Newman Catholic K-12 administrator Tony Adams said.

Newman Catholic leaders say many of their current students benefit from scholarships through the Newman Foundation. Newman families received more than $200,000 in STO scholarships and more than $100,000 in local scholarship.

“We had families in the past that just make a decision and it’s a financial decision and that’s unfortunate. We’ve worked very hard as a Catholic school to make sure that we’re first seen as a Catholic school and not a private school. We try to open our doors for everybody. We’ve made great strides over the years. I think this is just another piece that’s really going to help with that,” Adams said.

On the other side, Democrats have harshly criticized the legislation, saying it will harm rural public schools while benefiting wealthy families.