“Filling Montana classrooms, wherever the location, with quality educators remains one of my top priorities,” said Superintendent Elsie Arntzen.
FWP Director Hank Worsech testified in “light” opposition to the bill, saying the agency has seen a drop from nearly 800 volunteer instructors in 2019 to about 400 today.
Sen. Susan Webber, D-Browning, on Wednesday introduced a resolution she said was “near and dear to my heart.”
“It’s a real sad state of affairs,” said Jenn Rowell, who produces The Electric independent newspaper in Great Falls.
The Montana Board of Public Education wrapped up deliberations on rule revisions to the state’s school accreditation standards, and initiated a math standards review.
Under the scholarship program now, a single parent who earns $2,300 a month would pay a $320 copay. But under the bill, the same family would pay $161.
Penalties could include a fine of $500-$1,000, up to six months in jail, or both.
"Kids have a right to heal, get treatment and not be harmed by treatment," bill sponsor Laura Smith, a Democratic representative from Helena, said Wednesday.
The funds, which were previously set aside for the St. Stephens Indian School, would cover Department of Family Services cuts that the state made in 2020.
“House Bill 203 is designed to empower parents to make decisions about their children’s education. It’s also designed to correct the issue of tax equity,” Rep. David Bedey said.