Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman today announced the hiring of Karla Escobar as the Arizona Department of Education’s (ADE’s) new Director of the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program. Escobar has worked at ADE for the last seven years, having previously served in the role as ESA Director from February 2015 until April 2016, and most recently as a Dispute Resolution Compliant Investigator.
“I am excited to work with Karla to ensure that the department manages this program with full transparency and accountability,” said Superintendent Hoffman. “This has been a very visible program over the past few years, which is why we have been particularly deliberate and especially thorough with our approach towards the program and the hiring process. We interviewed several external and internal candidates before deciding on Karla, who will not only provide both historical knowledge, but also seize upon this opportunity to restore confidence in the delivery of this program.”
Escobar brings with her a detailed understanding of how the agency needs to adhere to all relevant state and federal regulations, as well as an ability to coordinate payments with the treasurer’s office and accurately process applications in a timely manner. She will work closely with ADE leadership to recommend policy and legislative changes to better improve program outcomes.
In addition to her duties as ESA Director, Escobar will assist Superintendent Hoffman in leading a new ESA Task Force. The purpose of the task force is to engage stakeholders and examine all methods for improving program management.
The education stakeholders involved in this task force include the governor’s office, the treasurer’s office, American Federation for Children, Save Our Schools and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. The task force’s aim is to seek bipartisan cooperation, an array of perspectives and a variety of solutions in order to determine the best course of action for the ESA program.
Escobar will lead a staff of 11 other full-time employees, managing a program that dispersed roughly $58.7 million to approximately 5,000 students this past school year. The new ESA Director, who is fluent in Spanish and has a master’s degree in education, will bring a breadth of expertise to the position.
More information on the ESA program is available at www.azed.gov/esa.
Several expected changes to the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program at the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) are on hold pending the results of a referendum filed late today. The changes outlined in Senate Bill 1431 included an updated application for Arizona students who were not previously eligible for the program. The new legislation was passed by the State House and Senate and signed by the Governor, earlier this year.
ADE and ESA staff will await further information from the Secretary of State’s Office as to the final validation of petitions related to the referendum. If the number of signatures submitted is eventually deemed insufficient, ADE will enact the changes as originally planned. If the measure is referred to the ballot, ADE will plan to await the results of the election before taking any action related to Senate Bill 1431.
For more information about the ESA program or the online application, parents can visit www.azed.gov/esa. The current application is available at https://esa.azed.gov/esa.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today announced the hiring of Lindsay Hudson as the Arizona Department of Education’s (ADE’s) new Director of the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program. Hudson has spent the majority of her professional career working in finance for Fortune 500 companies, joining the Department after most recently serving as an Operations Project Manager for Bank of America.
“I am excited to work with Lindsay to ensure that the Department manages this program as efficiently as possible,” said Superintendent Douglas. “With the amount of attention the program received this past legislative session, ADE is expecting the number of applications to increase as more eligibility categories are opened up. I extend a warm welcome to Lindsay, whose background and experience will prove to be invaluable assets to the program as it continues to expand.”
At Bank of America, Hudson generated $338 million in customer assistance funds, while also managing database implementation for the Hardest Hit Fund and Emergency Homeowner Loan programs. Before her tenure at Bank of America, Hudson was responsible for financial reporting, revenue analysis and forecasting for Honeywell Corporate and Honeywell Aerospace.
The announcement of a new ESA Director comes on the heels of an increased staffing effort by ADE designed to bolster the program’s management and oversight and deliver excellent service to parents and students. In addition to Hudson, ESA is in the process of hiring several new program specialists to bring its total number of full-time employees to 11.
More information on the ESA program, including student eligibility details, is available at www.azed.gov/esa.