School choice advocates are holding their breath. The new budget agreement now under consideration by the House and Senate provides modest funds to help expand the Opportunity Scholarship Grant program in 2015-16 and 2016-17. Under the agreement, funding would expand from $10.8 million to $17.6 million this year and to $24.8 million in 2016-17. Opportunity Scholarships provide vouchers of up to $4,200 to eligible low-income students to attend the school of their choice (Find out more about the program here). Earlier this year the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Opportunity Scholarship Program.
The additional funding is welcome and much-needed. Since the program opened, 12,000 applications have been received and 3,000 students are on waiting lists. Beginning in 2016-17, close to 6,000 Opportunity Scholarships will be funded. Clearly there is a demand for such a program and clearly parents want to be able to choose where their children are educated. A big thank you to all legislators who supported this program!