Bill would abolish Opportunity Scholarship Program

Published 10:41 am Friday, June 5, 2020

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A bill introduced last week in the North Carolina General Assembly would abolish the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, a program that provides tuition assistance to help enable students in lower-income families to attend the school of their parents’ choosing.

House Bill 1129 is sponsored by Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Orange) along with 39 other House Democrats, and would make good on a pledge made by Gov. Roy Cooper to eliminate the school choice program, the NC Family Policy Council reports.

Currently, over 12,250 K-12 students in North Carolina take advantage of the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides eligible children up to $4,200 a year toward tuition in a private, parochial, or other non-public school.

The program was established in 2013, and the General Assembly has continued to increase funding for the program to enable a growing number of families to benefit from school choice options in the state.

A report conducted by N.C. State University in 2017 and updated in 2019 found, “Families that receive vouchers [through the OSP program] are among the lowest-income households in the state: The median adjusted household income is $16,213 for new voucher recipients and $15,000 for renewal recipients.”

The top three Tar Heel counties in per capita income, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, are:

  1. Orange at $32,912, with median household income of $52,981
  2. Wake at $32,592 and $63,770, and
  3. Mecklenburg at $31,848 and $55,294.

At the bottom of the scale are

  1. Tyrrell at $15,812 per capita and $32,215 median household income
  2. Robeson at $15,321 and $29,667, and
  3. Hyde at $14,992 and $38,265.

House Bill 1129 has been referred to the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.