With the new year, I feel optimistic that Berean Academy will make an even bigger impact on Kingdom work through Christian education. I believe this for several reasons. First, as I visit with parents in the area, I hear an increasing number expressing their concerns about public education's direction, coupled with a desire to see their kids experience a Christ-centered, biblical education.
Second, the Tax Credit for Low-Income Students Scholarship Program has been expanded to provide SGO scholarships of up to $8000 per student per year to kids enrolling in kindergarten for the first time or 1-8th grade public school students transferring to an accredited private school like Berean. To meet the financial guidelines, the family would need to qualify for the free and reduced lunch program offered in public schools. The program is funded by donors who receive a 70% state tax credit for their donations to Renewanation (our Scholarship Granting Organization). If interested, please contact the Berean office for more information about this program.
Third, the school choice movement in Kansas is gaining momentum. Currently, a bill would expand the SGO program I just described (allowing a higher household income to qualify and higher tax credits for donors). In addition, House Bill No. 2218 would establish the Sunflower Education Equity Act, which would provide education savings accounts for students, the funds of which could be used to help pay for private school education. I testified on behalf of this bill in February and was very impressed with the support of the majority of members of the K-12 Education Finance Committee.
Another example is Senate Bill No. 128, which would establish the Ad Astra Opportunity Tax Credit. SB 128 provides a refundable tax credit to parents of children who choose to attend accredited private schools or non-accredited schools. Parents would receive in the form of a tax refund the amount equivalent to the "base aid" spent on children attending public schools. There is, of course, no guarantee that any of these bills will be passed in this session, but I do feel that some new school choice option will come to Kansas soon, making Christian education accessible to more families.
Finally, the new elementary building project, which the association approved in August, is gaining some momentum. The Lord has provided over $450,000 for the 6-classroom expansion, a significant percentage of that coming in recent months. With the new SGO scholarships available for new families coupled with a renewed interest in Christian education, I believe we will continue to see an increase in elementary enrollment, making the extra classrooms a critical need for Berean.
This is an exciting time to be a part of Christian education in Kansas. The Lord is opening doors and providing new opportunities. Please pray that Berean will successfully and wisely navigate these opportunities and the decisions that come with them.