Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick has created a new position within his office to implement and oversee the state's first school choice program.
The Treasurer's Office has developed and filled the director of program administration position, Fitzpatrick announced Monday, which will supervise the state's savings and investment programs, including the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program created earlier this year.
Kim Baughman, previously the community finance manager within the Missouri Department of Economic Development, was chosen for the role and began serving Monday.
In her previous role, Baughman, who was with DED for 15 years, oversaw multiple tax credit and grant programs - like the Neighborhood Assistance and Youth Opportunities programs - and led initiatives to improve existing tax credit programs and implement a workforce training incentive.
"I am excited to welcome Kim to the Treasurer's Office," Fitzpatrick said in a news release. "Her background in state government and implementing tax credit programs makes her the ideal fit for this new position."
In the new position, Baughman will be involved with the implementation of the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program, the state's new K-12 scholarship program, and overseeing the Show-Me Checkbook, MOST, Missouri's 529 education plan, and MO ABLE, the state's savings and investment program for disabled people.
The Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program was created by the General Assembly through legislative action last session.
The program, also known as MOScholars, provides state tax credits to individuals and businesses that donate or make contributions to nonprofit Education Assistance Organizations.
Qualifying students can then apply for scholarships from the Education Assistance Organizations to attend a K-12 school outside their public school district.
"Over the past several months, my staff and I have been working to develop and put the new scholarship program into place and look forward to launching it as soon as possible," Fitzpatrick said. "In creating this role, we sought to hire someone with the expertise to help launch this new program and provide dedicated oversight to the other valuable programs the office oversees."
The legislation passed earlier this year provides the Treasurer's Office 2 percent of the contributions to Educational Assistance Programs each year to cover marketing and administrative costs.
Mary Compton, communications director for the Treasurer's Office, said Fitzpatrick decided to use those funds to form a new division within his office to oversee all of its savings and investment programs and the Show-Me Checkbook.
"Historically these programs have been overseen solely by executive staff that typically turn over when a new treasurer takes office," Compton said. "Having a permanent director overseeing these programs will provide consistency in the administration of all of these programs."
Compton said Baughman will be involved with writing rules, working with other state agencies to implement tax credit protocols, identifying Education Assistance Organizations and developing an application process as she works to stand up the new program.
"I am passionate about service and providing opportunities and resources to youth and families who are under-resourced and underserved," Baughman said in the news release. "This position is a wonderful way to put this passion into action. I look forward to implementing this new program and working to make sure existing programs continue to serve Missourians."
Compton said the Treasurer's Office is looking to implement the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program as soon as possible, but that process involves working with selected Education Assistance Organizations.
The legislation provides for up to 10 Education Assistance Organizations to award scholarships, but Compton said they have not yet been picked out.
Once the selection process is complete, she said a final decision on when the scholarships will be available will be made with the selected organizations.