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School Board takes stand against vouchers

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Ted Wise
Sarah Andrews

Members of the Sumner County School Board on Tuesday night passed a resolution asking state legislators for their support against forming any type of school voucher system in Tennessee. This comes just weeks after Davison County Schools passed a similar measure.

The voucher system would take money from public education funds and create publicly funded scholarships, allowing parents to use those funds for non-public schools. Proponents of the system want the vouchers implemented in schools that are performing in the bottom five percent of achievement in the state.

Although there are no schools in Sumner County that fall into the bottom five percent, board members said they wanted to send the resolution in hopes of blocking the voucher system in Tennessee altogether.

"We are just trying to keep it from ever getting implemented in the state to begin with because there's no telling where it would go (from there)," board member Ted Wise said.

Board member Sarah Andrews agreed.

"I appreciate us looking at this," she said. "I have been disappointed to see the number of bills coming up in the legislature concerning vouchers. To take money away from local schools is just very frustrating."

Senate Bill 380, called the Tennessee Choice and Opportunity Scholarship Act, was scheduled to be heard March 15 in the Senate Education Committee.

The plan calls for 5,000 statewide vouchers to be issued for the2017-18 school year; 7,500 vouchers for the 2018-19 school year; 10,000 vouchers for the 2019-20 school year; and 20,000 vouchers to be issued in the 2020-21 school year and subsequent years following.

The fiscal impact for those school systems mandated to abide by the bill is estimated to exceed $37.2 million a year by 2020.

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