Jan 24, 2023 - News

Differences in rules for Iowa's public and private schools

Illustration of an apple wearing a private school tie and emblem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Iowa lawmakers passed a bill Monday night allowing state funding to be used for private school tuition.

Why it matters: All public school students will be allowed to take $7,598 in state funding with them annually to be used towards private school tuition.

  • Public school advocates warn the bill could take away money from their school districts, which are funded through enrollment numbers.

Driving the news: We examined state laws and regulations to analyze the differences between Iowa private and public schools, including:

βœ… Accreditation: All public schools are accredited through the state, which requires an on-site visit and an approved five-year plan.

  • Private schools have the option to become accredited through a state-approved independent agency, which is typically religiously affiliated.
  • Independently-accredited schools are not required to hire licensed teachers, Margaret Buckton told Axios, executive director of Urban Education Network, which represents the state's largest public schools.

βœ‹ Enrollment: Public schools are required to accept all students living within their district.

  • Private schools may decline to accept a student based on their performance and also do not have to offer special education.

πŸ“š Curriculum: While public schools are required to offer several career exploration classes β€” like art, IT and agriculture β€” private schools may opt out.

  • Private schools may also opt out of teaching health development, which includes curriculum on STDs and HPV vaccinations.

πŸ” Food: Public schools are required to provide free breakfast and lunch for qualifying students.

  • Those programs are not required at private schools.

πŸ’΅ Tuition: Private schools may charge tuition and require volunteer hours from parents, while public schools cannot.

What's next: Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to sign the bill into law today.


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