On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, the Alabama Senate passed Senate Bill 263 sponsored by Senator Donnie Chesteen, R-Geneva, with a vote of 26 – 7. This bill creates revisions to what is known as the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 (AAA.)
AAA language dealing with the Alabama State Department of Education’s lowest-performing schools will be modified from ‘failing’ to ‘priority.’ These priority and qualifying schools will be defined as any school yielding a D or F on the state report card.
In addition to the priority school language, the definition of eligible student will also be revised. Currently, for an eligible student to be considered, the household income for a family of four must be below $55,500. The new language increases that amount to $75,000, allowing for a larger pool of students to be qualified. The expanded eligibility language will include students with disabilities to the Alabama Accountability Act and will define those who qualify along with private tutoring and educational service providers allowable under this category of students.
“Senate Bill 263 is a victory for all Alabamians, especially our school age children,” stated Senator Donnie Chesteen. “By expanding access to scholarships, and enhancing tax credits, my hope is that this bill paves the way for greater educational opportunities and empowers families to ensure their children’s success.”
The scholarship amount will not exceed $10,000 per student per academic year and if a student chooses to leave the scholarship program during the school year, the remaining balance of the scholarship shall go to the public school they enroll in.
“Creating and expanding educational opportunities for our state’s children has been and will continue to be a top priority for the Alabama Legislature,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed. “The expansion of the Alabama Accountability Act opens the doors for more students to participate in this already successful tax credit program. I am proud of my colleague, Senator Donnie Chesteen, who has been a dedicated and diligent education advocate during his tenure as an educator and legislator. Together, we’re supporting the future generations of Alabamians.”
Senate Bill 263 will transmit to the House of Representatives for further consideration.