Video complaints of delays in approving Empowerment Scholarship Account applications led an Arizona legislator to ask for an investigation of the process, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction to again request the Legislature release the full ESA administrative funding allowed by law for the school choice program.
The Arizona Department of Education under Supt. Hoffman’s administration sent Empowerment Scholarship Account approval letters after the 45-day deadline to 559 applicants for the 2019 school year, while under former Supt. Diane Douglas’ administration it sent out 513 letters after 45 days in 2018 and 130 letters after the deadline in 2017, according to an AZ Mirror article.
In response, Supt. Hoffman said her administration intends to effectively run the ESA program, and that “parents could rightfully be upset by long hold times.”
“The number of students in the program has grown by 52 percent over the last three years, but funding has not kept pace,” Supt. Hoffman said.
The Arizona Department of Education is tasked with managing the Empowerment Scholarship Account program with just 1.62 percent of funds received, yet School Tuition Organizations, which fund scholarships for students to attend private schools, are allowed by law to use up to 10 percent of annual tax credit contributions to manage their programs, said Chuck Essigs, director of governmental relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials.