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Bill would create private scholarship fund in Missouri

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – A bill that would create a private scholarship fund for public school students is moving forward in both the Missouri House and Senate.

The Betty Thompson scholarship bill would allow low-income students in failing school districts to apply for scholarships to attend better-performing nearby public schools or even private schools.

"This scholarship does not take one dime out of the school education funding formula," noted bill sponsor Luanne Ridgeway, a Republican state Senator from Clay County.

"What it does is provide an additional $40 million from private money that can go into the scholarship funds."

Ridgeway says the bill will be assigned to a Senate committee for a hearing, while the House is set to hold a floor debate on it this week. She also says if neighboring public schools refuse to accept children, the scholarship money could then be used for a private Christian parochial school, or to hire a tutor to help with their studies.