The Iowa Department of Education has approved $142 million in taxpayer dollars to go towards K-12 private school tuition for the 2023-24 school, and nearly $100 million of that amount will go to applicants in just 15 Iowa counties.
New data from the department released Monday showed that 18,627 applications have been approved for Gov. Kim Reynolds’ new voucher program—called Students First Education Savings Accounts—and each applicant is slated to receive $7,635 in taxpayer funds toward a private school education.
Less than 1,000 applications remain in review. Reynolds previously noted that more than 29,000 applications were received for the program.
Applicants in 96 of Iowa’s 99 counties were approved. The only counties where no applications were approved were in Decatur, Louisa, and Ringgold counties, none of which have private schools. Of Iowa’s 99 counties, only 41 have private schools located within them.
Iowa House Democrats panned the latest news.
“Governor Reynolds gave the special interests and private schools a huge bonus today. It’s just the first installment of her promise to shift over $1 billion of our tax dollars from public schools to private schools instead,” said Rep. Sharon Steckman (D-Mason City).
“It’s bad news for over 90% of the Iowa kids in public schools who will have fewer opportunities and it’s even worse for those public school kids in rural areas,” Steckman added. ” Iowans are overwhelmingly opposed to vouchers because public money is for public schools, and Iowans do not want more of their public schools to close.”
As many predicted, Iowa’s most populated counties are set to receive the most in voucher funds. Collectively, these 15 counties—10 of which rank in the top 15 for county population—are slated to receive $98,490,000:
- Polk County: $24 million, 3,144 approved applications
- Linn County: $10 million, 1,318 approved applications
- Scott County: $9.9 million, 1,306 approved applications
- Sioux County: $9 million, 1,183 approved applications
- Black Hawk County: $7.19 million, 942 approved applications
- Woodbury County: $6.9 million, 916 approved applications
- Dubuque County: $6.7 million, 882 approved applications
- Johnson County: $4.3 million, 572 approved applications
- Dallas County: $3.8 million, 505 approved applications
- Carroll County: $3.2 million, 427 approved applications
- Plymouth County: $3.1 million, 411 approved applications
- Pottawattamie County: $2.9 million, 383 approved applications
- Webster County: $2.8 million, 369 approved applications
- Cerro Gordo County: $2.5 million, 338 approved applications
- Marion County: $2.2 million, 297 approved applications
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story omitted Dallas County. We regret the error.
by Ty Rushing
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