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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

Senate Ed Defers Opportunity Scholarship Changes to 41st Day

House Bill 1128 which attempts to alter requirements for the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship failed to pass through committee Thursday. The bill narrowly made it through the House of Representatives last week after being amended. As SDPB’s Cassie Bartlett reports, both supporters and opponents of the bill used equality as their defense.

Supporters of House Bill 1128 say current standards to receive the Opportunity Scholarship aren’t fair. The proposed legislation attempts to lower the ACT score requirement for home schooled students from a 28 to a 26. High school students enrolled in an accredited high school must meet course and grade requirements, plus score a 24. If any of the requirements aren’t met, then they must score a 28 on the ACT. Secretary of Education Melody Schopp says the proposed bill doesn’t level the playing field.

“There is a student who has gone through high school, on track for the Opportunity Scholarship, gets the
C-, takes the ACT so he thinks I still got that opportunity, but gets a 27. If you get a 27 and you’re a home-schooled student, you’re going to get the Opportunity Scholarship. If you’re a public school student and you get a 27 and have not met the rigorous requirements, you are ineligible for the Opportunity Scholarship. I’m not arguing fiscal, I’m not arguing anything else with whether it’s home school or public school, what I’m saying is it causes a huge inequity,” Schopp says.

Other opponents say the Opportunity Scholarship is meant to encourage students to strive for good grades in more challenging classes, but there’s no way to verify a home-schooled students’ grades or course work. Members of the Senate Education Committee deferred House Bill 1128 to the 41st day. For South Dakota Public Broadcasting, I’m Cassie Bartlett.