Updated August 11, 2023 - 9:50 pm
After legislators rejected his proposal to use federal COVID-19 funds to finance Opportunity Scholarships, Gov. Joe Lombardo appears to have worked out a reprieve with one scholarship organization for the impacted students.
The governor’s office announced Friday it would partner with the AAA Scholarship Foundation to provide money for scholarships for one year.
In a 12-hour hearing Wednesday, Democratic legislators argued that the AAA Scholarship Foundation took the lion’s share of the money allotted every year as part of the Educational Choice Scholarship Program.
Now, in what Lombardo’s office called a “short-term solution for this crisis,” eligible parents looking to obtain a scholarship for the new school year must apply with AAA Scholarship Foundation directly. The deadline to apply is Sept. 11.
“Together, we will be able to ensure that no student currently receiving an Opportunity Scholarship will be removed from their chosen school this school year,” Lombardo said in a news release Friday. “However, unless legislative Democrats work with us on a long-term solution, children will be forced out of their schools and back into the very schools that failed to meet their unique educational needs.”
The governor’s proposal came after the Legislature earlier this year passed Lombardo’s education bill without the portion to fund and expand Opportunity Scholarships. The Governor’s Finance Office had submitted the proposal to the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee, a 22-member majority-Democrat committee.
Lombardo’s Chief of Staff Ben Kieckhefer had said at least 350 students are at risk of losing their Opportunity Scholarships and getting kicked out of their schools in the coming weeks.
“AAA Scholarship Foundation is pleased to be a part of a solution for ensuring no child loses their scholarship for the upcoming school year,” Kim Dyson, president and CEO of the AAA Scholarship Foundation, said in Friday’s press release. “We’re grateful for Governor Lombardo’s vision, leadership, and staunch advocacy for these children, and we look forward to working with legislators from both parties on a long-term solution for the scholarship program.”