Illinois parents push to extend statewide school choice program

Illinois enacted the Invest In Kids Scholarship Tax Credit Program in 2017. The program offers a 75% income tax credit to individuals and businesses that contribute to qualified scholarship granting organizations, which then provide scholarships for students whose families meet the income requirements to attend qualified, non-public schools and technical academies in Illinois.

Editor’s note: This article appeared Wednesday on thecentersquare.com.

Parents of students from across the state involved with the state’s Invest In Kids school choice pilot program are lobbying Illinois lawmakers to make it permanent.

The program allows donors to get a 75% income tax credit toward donations to fund school choice scholarships for qualified families throughout the state. Scholarship Granting Organizations are approved to administer the program, which is set to sunset Jan. 1, 2024. As lawmakers return, parents are looking for an extension.

Eric Ruiz of Joliet, a parent with students attending a private school involved in the program, explained his goal of coming to Springfield.

“We are hoping to get rid of the sunset date and make this a permanent thing,” Ruiz said. “We do not know what the future holds, so I would like my kids to remain there.”

Trip Rodgers, superintendent for Lutheran Schools in central Illinois, said that students who usually would not get a chance at private school can with the program.

“Over the last couple of years, we have seen an increase in the number of students who can attend our school,” Rodgers said. “Many of these students in the past would not have been able to do it financially.”

Anthony Holter, president of the scholarship granting organization Empower Illinois, said 100% of the scholarships are based on need, with 70% of recipients having the most financial need.

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