EdChoice Kentucky seeks volunteers

EdChoice-2015-fBy Marnie McAllister, Record Editor

EdChoice Kentucky, a non-profit organization that aims to give families more choices in education, is looking for parents and others interested in the issue to get involved. Volunteers are needed to serve as “district captains” in about 50 legislative districts around Kentucky.
These volunteers would help promote the organization’s effort to create state tax credits for donations made to organizations that grant scholarships based on need, such as the Catholic Education Foundation in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

“We want to build some grass-roots support for the scholarship tax credit,” said Charles H. Leis, president of EdChoice Kentucky. “We’re getting individuals throughout the state who have a demonstrated affection for what we’re doing to work with us on ensuring local districts are educated on what the school tax credits are all about. We think people will listen to someone local.”

EdChoice, whose members include the Archdiocese of Louisville and the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, supported bills introduced earlier this year in the Kentucky House and Senate that sought to provide scholarship tax credits to individuals and businesses that make contributions to either a scholarship-granting organization or a fund for public schools. The measures, which had bipartisan sponsorship, failed to move out of committee in both chambers.

Legislation for another attempt in the 2017 session of the Kentucky General Assembly is expected to be proposed, said Andrew Vandiver, associate director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky and vice president of EdChoice Kentucky.

Leis, who was named the president of EdChoice Kentucky late last month, said the primary goal of EdChoice is to give families options, especially those who can’t usually afford non-public options.

“It’s compelling. Our primary reason is to give middle-income and low-income families a choice in education,” he said, noting that scholarships linked to the proposed tax credit would be awarded based solely on need.

“I’ve seen first hand how middle-income and lower-income families are squeezed out of any education choice,” he said. “I was educated in the private sector myself. When a child and their parents have a choice, their outcome is better. In the public sector, you can get caught in a zip code and you lose choice.”

Legislation proposed last year set the threshold of need by the federal reduced lunch program guidelines. To qualify for a scholarship, a family’s income could not exceed 160 percent of the federal reduced lunch threshold. A family of four earning just under $45,000 annually qualifies for reduced lunch during the 2016-2017 school year.

Leis, who is the vice chair and CEO of Brandeis Machinery and Supply Co., said he also believes scholarship tax credits will be good for Kentucky’s economy and business owners.

“From the business standpoint, they want a better-educated workforce. There are a number of studies where this has benefitted both the private and the public sectors,” he said.

Leis and the other EdChoice supporters are hoping volunteers will help spread their message as district captains. The volunteers are asked primarily to follow-up with local churches and other organizations that EdChoice has contacted.

“When we try to send information, for example, to parishes or churches of all kinds for their bulletins, on the local level (the captains) will check and try to be sure it gets into the publication,” Leis explained.

District captains are needed all over Kentucky, he added.

To learn more about EdChoice Kentucky, visit edchoiceky.com. Additional information is available on the national website, edchoice.org.

On the Kentucky site, those interested may sign up to receive a newsletter. And businesses and organizations may show their support by joining the “Geared for Smarter Future Council.” About 50 have signed up, so far, said Leis.

Marnie McAllister
Written By
Marnie McAllister
More from Marnie McAllister
Walk for Life will begin at Trinity High School this year on Sept. 19
The 37th annual Walk for Life sponsored by the Kentucky Right to...
Read More
0 replies on “EdChoice Kentucky seeks volunteers”