HB 4161 expands school choice with education savings

Died In Committee

Status (overview) of bill: https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2024R1/Measures/Overview/HB4161
Committee assigned to bill: https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2024R1/Committees/HED/Overview

HB 4161 increases the number of students that may enroll in virtual public charter school that is not sponsored by the student’s resident school district without first receiving approval from the school district – extends the cap from 3 to 6% in school year 2025-26.

Requires school districts to participate in open enrollment, but may apply for a waiver if open enrollment is demonstrated to cause an adverse impact to the school district based on funding loss for support services and prevents delivering quality education to resident students. Participating school districts must set a standard for the number of students they will consent and may base it by school, grade or a combination of school and grade level. First preference is given to in-district transfers. A school board must give consent unless a waiver is filed or the student resides in a district with a waiver, or it exceeds established standards for capability, or the student is expelled. Consent is based on an equitable lottery selection process giving priority first to in-district transfers. Consent is given to persons who have siblings currently enrolled in the school regardless if the school district then files for a waiver. Once transferred, the student remains enrolled at that school until graduation or transfers to another school. The bill sets out prohibitions for encouraging and discouraging a transfer.

Allows student to use existing bus services, but does not require the district to provide transportation across districts unless required by federal law.

Directs the Department of Education to develop and implement a policy that provides for the establishment of education savings accounts for students to use for educational expenses that is equal to 80% of the amount that the student’s resident school district would have received. The remaining 20% goes to the student’s resident school district, applies to the 2025-2026 school year.

Extends waiver of any tuition fees that are currently waved for low-income under federal requirements are extended to families with federal adjusted gross income that does not exceed $125,000 adjusted each January 1 for CPI affective January 1, 2026.



The initiative sponsors have a concern that the bill doesn’t give enough protection to private schools and homeschooler if the state funds the education. They would like the bill to include in Section 7 of the Act: 

“Nothing in the Act may ever limit the independence or autonomy of any person or entity receiving or using distributions into education savings accounts created under the Act to provide education to students nor make the actions of such person or entitles the actions of this state. Neither the government, the Department of Education, State Board of Education, nor any state agency (or nonprofit organization contracting with any state agency) may regulate the education programs, curricula, teaching qualifications or admission policies of any person or entity receiving or using distributions under the Act.
Where IP6 allows for a monthly distribution option, HB 4161 transfers a lump sum into a designated savings account in the same manner as IP6, but doesn’t contain the wording that funds cannot be used as a leverage towards private schools or homeschools.

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  1. Please support SCHOOL CHOICE now! Our kids aren’t even able to do reading writing and basic math since the teachers unions have hijacked them with political ideologies. I want my tax dollars to be able to send my grandchildren to the school that best addresses their educational needs, NOT the needs of the teachers unions!

    • Kathy, please send in your comments as testimony – here’s how:

      1. Click on the link at the top of this bill alert by “status (overview) of bill”
      2. On the next page, click on the “Submit Testimony” tab (it’s last on the right)
      3. On the next page, fill in the 5 required fields (they have an asterisk (*) by them)
      4. Then click on either “text testimony” or “upload a PDF.”

      If you click on text testimony, you can then type in what you want to say.

      If you click on upload a PDF, then you’ll get the option to select a file from your computer.

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