School choice bill to be voted on soon, area schools respond

Leaders at Bishop Heelan believe a bill on school choice would help them and the students and...
Leaders at Bishop Heelan believe a bill on school choice would help them and the students and their families(KTIV)
Published: Jan. 22, 2023 at 10:53 PM CST
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - A vote on a school choice bill that would give families education savings accounts to use on private education could come soon in the Iowa legislature.

“Why would we support a monopoly on education, because we know that having choices for families and choices for students will make everybody better in the end,” John Flanery, President of Bishop Heelan Schools said.

At Bishop Heelan a private catholic school in Sioux City the thought is an education savings account will make it more affordable for everyone to have the option to attend while also decreasing the the amount of financial assistance provided and therefore the school can increase teacher pay and provide more programs such as those catering for students who need additional resources.

“I would envision that continuing and only growing, that our goal would be to try to serve those students with special needs inside our building, especially if we had funding that came along with that. So our goal would be to reach out ot those families and to try and to bring those students into our schools,” Flannery said

John Flanery, president of Bishop Heelan Schools said an education savings account would be able to be used for a variety of resources. But, in Sioux City Community School District Leslie Heying said in a statement “School choice would take much needed taxpayer dollars away from public schools, ultimately impacting education for thousands of students in our district and across Iowa at a time when funds are already stretched.”

The statement also included the most marginalized students will be impacted even more.

As far as the admissions process works at Bishop Heelan the thought is families who never would think of going to private school now have that opportunity. currently 75% of students at Heelan receive some financial support.

“We have families with two and three jobs who are truly sacrificing. So their kids can come to our school, it’s very humbling for me to see that every day. But many, many families do it,” Laurie Dougherty, Director of Enrollment at Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools said.

It is anticipated that this will be a highly debated bill in both the house and the senate in Des Moines

“My Parent’s had school choice when the put me and my siblings in catholic school, we always had school choice, what they are doing is taking away from public schools,” Rep. JD Scholten, (D) Sioux City said.

“I think its the role of the state government to provide education for our constituents it is in our best interest to have an educated constituency, “Rep. Jacob Bossman, (R) Sioux City said.