About the Backpack Bill

What is SB ### The Backpack Bill

The Backpack Bill is an innovative funding mechanism for students that will provide a state-funded Educational Savings Account (ESA) to every South Dakota K-12 student who opts into the program. The student may use these ESA funds for authorized educational expenses, including funding enrollment at the open-enrollment public school of their choice, tuition at a private school of their choice or homeschooling expenses.

Why is the Backpack Bill needed?

Backpack Bill 001

South Dakota’s system of assigning students to a public school based upon where the student lives

South Dakota’s education system doesn't always meet the diverse needs of many of our children by limiting their schooling options to a single choice, and some schools within a child's district are a hardship on families to commute to. The one-size-fits-all approach cannot provide what every student and family needs and creates a monopoly on schooling options. The lack of competition hinders responsiveness and innovation. Many students are trapped in underperforming schools or in schools that undermine core tenets of their belief systems.

Most of the children in public schools have no other options, so the schools lack incentive to respond to parental concerns. The Backpack Bill will break the monopoly of the one-size-fits-all system by funding the students rather than the system. The market forces created by this will result in a dramatically improved educational landscape that will benefit all students, regardless of where they choose to attend.

News coverage:

Coming soon

about the bill

The Backpack Bill empowers families to choose the educational option that best meets their needs. The Backpack Bill ties state resources to the student so that South Dakota funds students and teachers, instead of buildings and bureaucrats.

faqs

The Backpack Bill is an innovative funding mechanism for students that will provide a state-funded Educational Savings Account (ESA) to every South Dakota K-12 student who opts into the program. The student may use these ESA funds for authorized educational expenses, including tuition at a private school of their choice or homeschooling expenses.

Click below to find out more about the Backpack Bill, what it is, why it's needed, how much money follows the child, if there is an income threshold, how it works for homeschooling, private or public school, and what happens to local property tax.

myths

Every child is unique, and families should be empowered to choose the best educational setting to meet their child’s needs. At the same time, the Backpack Bill ensures that South Dakota maintains strong funding for community and public schools.

Click below for more details on dispelling backpack bill myths with facts and examples of school choice success.

research and facts

The overwhelming weight of research demonstrates a positive effect from school choice programs. Click below for a summary of much of the research and links to some of the actual studies.

get involved

Interested in helping pass the Backpack Bill? Click below for more information

action alerts

Click here to receive action alerts as the Backpack Bill moves through the legislature, and ways you can help