4/17/2013 10:21:00 AM AZ families have until May 1 to apply for school choice account
Special to the Tribune
Arizona families looking for better education options have two weeks left to apply for an empowerment scholarship account, a school choice program that gives parents the ability to choose the best education option for their child.
Empowerment scholarship accounts are private bank accounts that parents use for education expenses. The State of Arizona deposits a portion of a child's share of education funding into the account and parents can use that money to pay for school tuition, online classes, tutoring, books, and other expenses. Any leftover money can even be saved for college.
First created for special-needs children, the empowerment scholarship account program has since expanded to include children in "D" and "F" failing schools, foster and adoptive children, and children of active-duty military families. That means that 1 in 5 Arizona families are now eligible.
Empowerment scholarship accounts already have brightened the future of many Arizona families. Arizona mom Holland Hines has used an empowerment scholarship account to help her 6-year-old son Elias, who suffers from autism and hyperlexia. With their account, Holland has been able to tailor a school day and educational experience to serve her son's unique needs.
Arizona mom Kathy Visser has used an account to help her son Jordan, who suffers from cerebral palsy. Like Holland, Kathy has been able to use the account to meet her son's needs in a way that traditional public school couldn't.
Now that the program has been expanded to make nearly 200,000 Arizona schoolchildren eligible, many more families will be able to tailor an education experience to meet their children's unique needs.
Families can apply for the program by visiting: http://www.azed.gov/esa/applicants/. The application process takes just a few minutes, though may require submitting some additional information, so families should not delay in beginning the application. The Department of Education is accepting applications until 3 p.m. on May 1.