Floating plan from Ontario leaders to help local children save for further education

Board Chair Ken Hart, Mayor Riley Hill and Ontario School Board President Tom Greco propose that the city invest some of the marijuana tax money in a fund to help children in the region to afford college or post-secondary education.

Ontario City Councilor Ken Hart provides an update at a 2021 council meeting (Company file photo)

ONTARIO – A trio of community leaders propose that the city of Ontario put $ 100 each into a special savings account for 1,000 local children to use for college or post-secondary education.

They pitched their idea to Ontario city council on Tuesday, urging councilors to use the extra marijuana sales tax money to fund the “Ontario Promise.” The board is not expected to take any formal action until the end of the month.

The idea was developed by Chairman of the Board Ken Hart, Mayor Riley Hill and Tom Greco, a local pastor and chair of the Ontario school board.

“It would be a way for us to really invest in our kids and show people that we care about the next generation,” Hart said in an interview Monday. “We want to make Ontario more attractive.

According to the proposal, the city would deposit money for each child in Kindergarten and Grades 3, 6, 9 and 12.

The money would go into what’s called a 529 plan – a tax-exempt savings account set up specifically to cover education costs. The money could be withdrawn when a student graduates from high school to apply towards the costs of the next stage of education.

Ontario Promise “would demonstrate that the citizens of Ontario are committed to making education a primary reason for moving, living and raising a family in Ontario,” according to a program summary prepared by the three leaders.

Other goals would be to “make a financial commitment to the future educational aspirations of the next generation of Ontarians” and “to inspire parents, grandparents and other family members to contribute to this. investment “.

Hart and Greco said they believe many parents are either unaware of these tax-free savings programs, or that they often only start saving when their kids are already in high school.

“A lot of people don’t even know what a 529 plan is,” Greco said. “We’re trying to start this, to educate people. “

Hart said research shows that if families start putting money aside for future education, the chances of children going to college or other places are “considerably higher.”

The proposal asks the city to set aside $ 130,000 to launch the Ontario Promise. Hart said he hoped the council would act to appropriate this money from the city’s current budget so that the program would be ready to make its first installment into the accounts by December.

The idea arose from a book that Greco shared with Hart last year. The book describes efforts to revive cities and includes a description of how the focus on education has helped change other communities.

At the same time, Hart read how New York City funds such a program.

Hart, Greco, and Hill got together for breakfast last October to brainstorm the idea. Hart said it was clear the city was going to raise more money for marijuana taxes than expected.

They met other people over the next few weeks, fine-tuning their ideas accordingly and formulating the concept of the Ontario Promise.

Under this plan, any child living within the boundaries of the Ontario school district would qualify – but would not have to attend district schools. Students in private or homeschooled schools would be eligible, according to the proposal.

The plan notes that the city would only fund the first year of the program.

“It is the hope that future city councils will honor this commitment to future students and their families as long as funds for marijuana tax receipts are available,” the proposal says.

Greco said the school district itself “might support this in one way or another as well, maybe later when the students are in high school.”

The proposal also calls for parents, community groups and businesses to join together to help fund more deposits.

EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM – Available for $ 5 per month. Subscribe in the digital service of the Company and get the best of local journalism. We report with care, attention to accuracy, and an unwavering dedication to fairness. Get the kind of information you want – day in and day out from within the Enterprise.

Comments are closed.