Senate passes bill to expand homeschool scholarship access

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On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that would offer parents of homeschooled students more access to Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship money if the student scores high enough on a test.

The KEES program provides scholarships to students who earn at least a 2.5 GPA each year of attendance at a certified Kentucky high school. However, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Schickel, (R-Union) said Senate Bill 24 would allow families who homeschool to access more scholarship money.

“We’re talking about parents who have taken it upon themselves the responsibility to educate their own children,” Schickel said. “As testified during the interim (period) by university administration officers from Thomas More University, as a group, these are some of the most prepared students for college that we have in the commonwealth.”

Schickel said there are some exceptions, and not all of the students will qualify for KEES money. But many will, and the parents have given the state a break because they have taken the costs to educate their children on themselves, he said.

“So what this bill attempts to do is to give those parents some access to KEES money in the manner that traditional students have,” Schickel said. “Specifically, the transcript part of the KEES money, and it provides a testing mechanism.” 

Schickel said there was previously a dual credit proposal before the committee that would be based on dual credit scores from the university, but it changed to the current legislation.

“After some discussion with you on the committee, we decided it was better to go to a testing model,” he said. “So we have created a conversion chart where these students can test, and based on the score of that test, receive the transcript portion of the money, which a traditional student would receive.”

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Schickel said it’s interesting to point out that in an age when people are asking to avoid being tested, the homeschooled students are volunteering to be tested.

Last week in the Senate Education Committee, Senate Minority Caucus Chair Reginald Thomas, (D-Lexington) asked Schickel if the students are already receiving some KEES money. 

“There are two pots,” Schickel said. “One pot is for the testing. They can currently get that money, but they cannot get the transcript part for the grade point average because they don’t have a traditional grade point.”

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