HELENA, Mont. — In response to Gov. Greg Gianforte’s signature of House Bill 396 and House Bill 203, Government Affairs Director Andrew Yates released the following statement on behalf of yes. every kid.
“Everyone deserves the ability to make the best decisions for themselves and their families based on their unique needs and circumstances. New legislation in Montana empowers families to do just that — allowing them to customize the educational experience that’s best for their child, rather than forcing them to choose between options that work better together rather than separately and ends the state’s practice of school zoning discrimination. Access to a public school that best meets your child’s needs should not be determined by your ZIP code, and more states should follow Montana’s lead.
“These bills demonstrate Montana’s commitment to education freedom. Families deserve the opportunity to build a tailored educational experience that meets the needs of their child without being hindered by arbitrary district boundaries or seat time requirements. Our public schools should serve kids — not the other way around.
“We are grateful to Rep. Naarah Hastings, Rep. Rhonda Knudsen and Rep. Sue Vinton for their work, as well as Rep. David Bedey, and look forward to working with Gov. Greg Gianforte to continue advancing public policy that respects the dignity of every kid.”
HB 396 will:
- Allow children who attend private and homeschools to be admitted part-time to the public schools that they are zoned for.
- Empower families with the opportunity to utilize a mix of public, private and/or homeschooling.
- Guarantee every child in Montana access to public school courses.
HB 203 will:
- Create an interdistrict open enrollment program for students who are not facing extenuating circumstances with limited district discretion.
- Create a mandatory interdistrict open enrollment program for students who are facing extenuating circumstances, including living closer to the preferred school or are under the care of a state agency.
- SB 8 clarifies the definition of proficiency-based learning for districts participating in transformational learning programs to allow student progress to be based on students demonstrating competency rather than seat time, age or grade level.
- HB 257 will expand funding to cover out-of-pocket expenses for families engaging in activities that further a student’s career or technical education, including opportunities like internships and apprenticeships.
- HB 408 will expand the amount of tax credits permitted for the state’s tax credit scholarship program from $1 million to $5 million per year.