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Iowa Senate Approves Choice Bill

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The Iowa Senate has approved a bill that would allow some parents dissatisfied with local schools to send their children to neighboring districts at no cost.

The bill, which passed in the Senate by a vote of 27 to 18, is aimed at ensuring that students who live in small school districts have access to the same courses as students in larger districts.

Under the bill, parents of students in districts with fewer than 300 pupils who wish to transfer their children to a neighboring district would be required to demonstrate that their children are not being offered courses available in the neighboring district, according to Senator Wally E. Horn, a member of the Senate education committee.

State funding would "follow the student," Mr. Horn said. The state would pay the receiving district the full per-pupil grant from the state foundation formula for each outside student enrolled.

Proponents of the bill, Mr. Horn said, wanted to make sure that students have equality of educational opportunity; opponents called it "nothing more than a voucher system" that would ultimately shut down small school districts, he said.

Mr. Horn said it was unlikely that the Iowa House would consider the bill before the legislative session ended late last week.--sr

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