CV NEWS FEED // Last week, Catholic students in Utah gathered at a rally to thank the state’s legislators who passed a school choice bill in January that will help thousands of students through its scholarship program.
On January 24 nearly “300 Utah Catholic Schools students joined their peers from other private schools at a rally at the State Capitol,” reported Intermountain Catholic, news outlet for the diocese of Salt Lake City.
Utah Education Fits All sponsored the rally “as a way for the private school community to thank legislators who passed a bill last January to fund a scholarship program for private school students.”
Rep. Candice Pierucci (R-UT) and Sen. Kirk Cullimore (R-UT) sponsored the legislation, which put an annual $42.5 million toward the Utah Education Fits All Scholarship Program.
“This amount will provide up to $8,000 each to about 5,000 scholarship applicants to help cover their private school education,” Intermountain Catholic reported:
…The scholarship program is open to all students in grades K-12 who are Utah residents and are not enrolled in or planning to attend a public school full-time for the 2024-2025 school year.
If the number of applicants exceeds the funding, priority will be given to students from families with an income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
According to the scholarship’s website, “The program additionally provides for increased teacher pay: $8,400 per educator if the ESA program is funded and in effect, $4,200 if not. Given the broad staffing surge trend, this is a noteworthy shift in prioritizing education dollars to the classroom.”
Utah Catholic Schools Superintendent Mark Longe told Intermountain Catholic, “For Catholic families not already in our Catholic schools, who never thought that they could perhaps choose a Catholic education, this will give them an opportunity for their children to have the blessing of a Catholic school education.”
“And for those families with students already in Catholic schools who sacrifice to put their kids into Catholic education, this will also help them,” he added.
According to Intermountain Catholic, “Fifty-four percent of Utah Catholic Schools students currently receive scholarship assistance, Longe said.”
Other states such as Florida, Ohio, and Arizona have passed school choice legislation similar to Utah. Nearly three-fourths of all students in Catholic schools in Florida are utilizing the state’s new school choice scholarship.
CatholicVote previously reported, “In the 2023-2024 school year, approximately 73% of all students enrolled in a Catholic school in Florida participated in a school choice scholarship.”
Other states, such as Tennessee, are set to debate passing school choice legislation this year.