My Dear Parishioners,
During this past legislative session, the Nevada Legislature adopted two education bills that present exciting new opportunities for our schools and our students, but also some challenges for our current school families. Below is a brief outline of these bills as I understand them:
1. Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program:
Assembly Bill 165 (AB 165), also known as the “Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program,” allows families within a certain income bracket to apply for a grant from an approved scholarship organization to help pay educational expenses, including tuition. The maximum annual amount that can be distributed by the scholarship organizations is $5 Million. Temporary regulations governing the program have been released and the Nevada Department of Education (“DOE”) will be responsible for administering the program. Applications for grant funds will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. To date, however, only one of the five approved scholarship organizations, AAA Scholarship Foundation, has an application available on its website for completion. You can download the application via this link: http://www.aaascholarships.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Form-179-AANV-1516.INTs_.pdf
We recommend that all families interested in learning more about this opportunity visit the DOE website frequently in order to receive the latest updates as they are made available. The link for the DOE website is http://www.doe.nv.gov/Private_Schools/Nevada_Choice_Scholarship_Program/.
2. Educational Savings Account (“ESA”) Program:
Senate Bill 302 (“SB 302”), also known as the “Educational Savings Account Program,” is designed to provide grants to families which can be used to transfer children from a public school to a private school. The maximum grant amount is approximately $5,700.00. As a condition for acceptance of these grant funds, parents will be required to enter into an agreement with the Nevada State Treasurer’s office.
PLEASE NOTE: Parents should be aware of one particularly significant eligibility requirement within SB 302 (as we understand it) – prior to applying for an ESA, a student must have [already] attended a public or charter school in the State of Nevada for 100 consecutive days.
On July 29, 2015 the Nevada State Treasurer’s office posted an ESA enrollment application on their website. However, the 100-day requirement still seems to apply. Meaning, if you are enrolling your child in a private school for the upcoming 2015-2016 school year and your child attended public school for 100 consecutive days in the 2014-2015 school year and you intend to apply for an ESA grant for that child, you must submit a completed application to the State Treasurer prior to your child attending his/her first day of private school. Regulations proposed on August 4, 2015 (but not yet finalized) suggest that a student who takes an on-line public school class may qualify. We will continue to regularly monitor these proposed regulations.
All families who are interested in the ESA program and who would like to receive updates to its regulations are encouraged to register for updates with the Nevada State Treasurer’s office at http://nevadatreasurer.gov/SchoolChoice/Home/. Questions can be emailed directly to:
While the Diocese of Las Vegas is optimistic about the opportunities presented through this newly-enacted legislation, we are also cognizant of the challenges and uncertainty they create for our diocesan families whose children are presently enrolled in our schools.
Please know that we, as your Diocese, have been and will continue to be, actively engaged in the hearings and processes associated with this legislation, which may include providing testimony before our governmental representatives in order to bring attention to the sacrifices made by those families who have already selected educational choice(s) for their children.
I have appointed Mrs. Catherine Thompson as our new Catholic School Superintendent. Mrs. Thompson has been instrumental in assisting the Diocese with our work on this legislation and with other matters the diocese has undertaken which will enhance our students’ educational opportunities. As we journey on this path together, please know that we remain committed to providing quality educational experiences and opportunities for those presently enrolled students, as well as prospective new students, and their families.
Most Reverend Joseph A. Pepe, D.D., J.C.D.