An ESA is an Education Savings Account. It helps a family to fund non-public school educational expenses when the family believes a non-public school setting may be the best choice for their child. Iowa recently passed a school choice bill that included ESA funding. That funding will be phased in over the next three school years.
Iowa’s new ESA legislation was carefully written to maintain the independence of private schools. As Catholic schools, faith will always be central to our mission. There are no restrictions or changes to our curriculum that will result from this legislation. We will continue to celebrate Mass, have religion classes, and offer reconciliation, along with all of our current faith activities.
Admission of students within our schools will be evaluated annually. School administration will consider family applications on an individualized basis. Special consideration (in no particular order) will be given for applications of families who are active members at our supporting parishes, returning students in good standing from the prior school year, siblings of those returning students who might be new to our schools, and students and families who show an active interest in being contributing members of our vibrant faith-based school communities. We have every interest in continuing to grow our schools and the underlying culture that makes them the quality learning environments that they are. Every family is welcome and encouraged to apply, and we will do our absolute best to serve as many families as we possibly can.
We know parents value personal attention for their students. The SCCS Board of Education Directors is responsible for determining maximum class size and student/teacher ratio for grades K-12. The educational needs of the students and the overall instructional quality of classes shall be considered when determining class size. In grades with open seats, we will welcome new students according to our enrollment process.
Our Catholic schools are committed to working with all learners to the best of our ability, including children who may require additional academic support. We work with parents to determine if our services are sufficient to support optimal learning for their particular student. There are some needs we are not currently able to accommodate, however we continue to evaluate our programming so we may serve more students.
While the Catholic faith is integral to all aspects of school life, our Scott County Catholic Schools welcome families of all faith traditions into our school communities.
Our schools are accredited by the state of Iowa and teachers go through the same licensing process as public school teachers. The only exception is for high school theology teachers because the requirements from the state of Iowa are different for those only teaching religion. Iowa Catholic schools participate in state testing and report student outcomes to the IA Department of Education.
Since Iowa initiated the STO program in 2006, our schools have been able to welcome more students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds. In view of the passage of the new ESA legislation – as well as established population trendlines, we believe this trend will continue in the years to come.
Scott County parishes have always been an integral part of the success of our schools and this will not change. While ESAs will help make a Catholic education accessible to more families, the partnership we share with parishes must remain the backbone of our schools. With the implementation of the ESA program, the methods by which we finance our schools (including parish subsidy) may be adjusted as the program progresses and the full impact is realized.
Parish membership is based upon criteria set forth by each pastor for his parish(s). In general, parish membership is based upon mass attendance, tithing and service to the parish of membership. SCCS already verifies parish membership with the pastor of each supporting parish at the beginning of each school year in order to determine parish membership.
No. Scott County Catholic Schools will be implementing a transition plan with more modest tuition increases that will be phased in over time to align with the new ESA program.
Any ESA funds beyond the cost of tuition and other qualifying expenses will remain in the student’s account to be used through high school graduation. This means the account balance can grow during K-8 years to help cover the cost of high school tuition.
All families who applied for Family Tuition Plan funding in previous years will be asked to apply for ESA funding first and then apply for Family Tuition Plan funding if necessary.
The State of Iowa is working feverishly to hammer out the details of this computer based application process. SCCS will be notified as soon as the application becomes available . . . and as soon as we are notified, you will be notified.
Actually, the Iowa Catholic Conference has been working on various aspects of school choice since the 1980s when the initial school tuition tax credit was passed into law. Since that time, more entities have become interested in the issue of school choice and helped to amplify our voices. Many of you responded to our Legislative Alerts over the years, and that also played a part.
In the end, Governor Reynolds made school choice a priority of her legislative agenda, and we are very appreciative of her consideration, and that of the Iowa Legislature.