Private School Subsidy Bill Promises Sticker Shock

Claire HeadshotGeorgia lawmakers are sounding out a kinproposal to create Education Savings Accounts to allow parents of private and home school children to pay expenses with state money. A new Georgia Budget and Policy Institute analysis shows using state money to subsidize education outside Georgia’s public schools will drain nearly $18 million from the state budget the first year and rise to $223 million in year 13.

The proposal, House Bill 243, would send state dollars to families who will opt for private or home schooling even without the savings account.

You can read the full report with its appendix to see where GBPI’s numbers come from. But, as you’ll see, the calculation is on the conservative side and the costs could rise much higher.

Georgia lawmakers have yet to ask for an official estimate of HB 243’s cost, which could be done with a fiscal note request. To calculate the minimum expected cost, GBPI analyzed available data to estimate the number of children who would begin participating in the program as kindergartners.

The cost calculations focus on kindergartners because they are automatically eligible for the proposed savings accounts and use of the accounts by older students is uncertain. The cost estimate relies on several reasoned assumptions in the absence of official state data.

  • The analysis uses Georgia’s private school enrollment data from the U.S. Department Education to estimate nearly 10,000 kindergarten students already attend private school without the motivation of a savings account program. The same number of children is expected to enroll in private schools annually through fiscal year 2028.
  • Enrollment in the program is capped below 20,000 students the first two years, so much of the savings account money could at first go to families of kindergarten and first grade students already in private schools.
  • The analysis projects private school enrollment increases each year through 2028 for Georgia kindergartners, totaling more than 53,000 students at a cost exceeding $223.2 million in 2028.

The proposed Education Savings Account program neglects to require that private schools that get state money make important metrics available so taxpayers can evaluate the return they get on the investment. By contrast, public schools are required to report student performance and demographic information.

In the parlance of education, this proposal needs improvement and should be held back to allow state policymakers time for a proper cost-benefit analysis.

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8 thoughts on “Private School Subsidy Bill Promises Sticker Shock”

    1. Why not? It’s not public funds. It’s my funds that I pay. I don’t use public schools and never will so why should I have to pay twice. Not public funds, My funds!

    2. If you don’t want public funds to pay for private or homeschooled kids, then dont require me to pay for public schools that my kids don’t attend.

    3. I agree with the statement, “Do not use public funds to fund private or home school kids” – and here’s why: Private schools and homeschooling exist to offer options and alternatives to children and families for whom the public school model of education is not appropriate or not the best fit for those students and families who choose them. If private schools and homeschools start accepting public funds, then they will be obligated to accept upon themselves the framework, policies, methods, and curricula of the public schools. Most of the benefits of remaining independent of the system and using alternative educational paradigms that work better for these students and families will be lost!
      To those people who say “I don’t send my kids to the public schools, so why should I pay taxes to support them?”, I say: Having a well-educated citizenry is a benefit to all citizens. But if we start splintering the school funds into bits and pieces for private schools and homeschoolers, a system of public education will become unaffordable to the state! Also, funding private schools and homeschoolers will result in funding religious education, and this is not in keeping with the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state.
      Last, although it is in the best interests of the public to maintain an excellent system of public education (if only Georgia would do so), it is not incumbent upon each family with children to educate their children in the same way that the public school system does! Citizens have the right to determine for themselves what kind of education is appropriate fit THEIR children/families. There is nothing WRONG with private schools and homeschools choosing to teach different subjects, use different curricular materials and methods, and allowing the children to learn at a different pace than public school students. However, the state is not obligated to offer financial support to individuals or to *religious* private schools.
      I think it would be great if the public school system would incorporate more alternative schools, and make education LESS standard, rather than more so, so as to meet the needs of a more diverse group students. But alternative public schools are NOT private schools.

  1. This does not make good sense. How will they judge which private schools are worthy of educating our children…and which ones are not? I have seen students transfer from private schools or from being homeschooled, and their skills are far behind where they should be. That’s not always the case. But it does concern me that there will be no way to weed out those inferior schools.

  2. Do not use public money to fund private schools or homeschoolers. If they don’t want to get public education, then they can pay for their alternative!!

  3. But wait, won’t that be one less child you have to find in the public school system? I have not read the Bill, only this article, but Why would it cost tax payers more? Is it not just a simple transfer of funds? Instead of going to a public school, now goes to private? Private school cost less per child than public and pay teachers better. I see no problem with this.

  4. I think private school headed parents should be able to take what their taxes pay would pay for their child in public school and use it for private education.

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