Vouchers – Potential factor impacting staffing model

Very important details emerge about voucher bill in Nashville. These types of bills drain resources out of this district and affect things like staffing models. And they only benefit small segments of the population. The reality is that much like charter schools, vouchers will drain money out of the system that we could use to decrease class size and increase local school administration. Winning combination for a school district.

And I can tell you as one of your commissioners, that this type of activity is accounted for in the budget and is part of the reason the staffing model in the county is being considered for change.

This war must be fought. And I can tell you that one of your own Brian Kelsey is pushing this.

Mark Norris is carrying this legislation for the governor. But I tell you “school choice” in all of its forms are  making education more expensive.. The way that the bill is written is to benefit Shelby County primarily meaning our budget coull be hit hard.

Governor Haslam’s voucher bill

Senate Bill 196 sponsored by Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and its companion bill, House Bill 190 sponsored by Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) was filed Monday afternoon. The text of the bill can be found at this link: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/108/Bill/HB0190.pdf and the following is a summary of the “Tennessee Choice & Opportunity Scholarship” bill.

Student eligibility:

Student must:

reside in Tennessee

be zoned or enrolled in a public school in the bottom 5% of schools in overall achievement (schools in the ASD)

be no older than 22 years old

qualify for free or reduced price lunch

have been enrolled in a Tennessee public school during the two semesters preceding the semester the student receives a scholarship, is enrolling for the first time or previously received a scholarship

School eligibility:

Participating private schools must:

volunteer to participate in this program

provide notice on an annual basis of intent to participate, with notice of the number of available seats by grade level

be identified as a category I, II or III school pursuant to State DOE procedures

Annually administer state assessments or nationally recognized norm-referenced tests that measure student progress

Provide parents with annual assessment

Provide DOE with graduation rates and other data as determined by DOE

Comply with federal non-discrimination policies

Not discriminate against special needs students, but is only required to provide those services it already provides to assist students with special needs. The parent must acknowledge in writing to accept only services that are available in the school

Accept the scholarship amount as payment in full for the cost of tuition and fees

Allow students to remained enrolled for the duration of the school year at no additional cost if the student withdraws from the scholarship program

Submit to a limited audit

Require teachers to have a criminal background check

Other provisions of the bill:

The amount of the voucher would be the per pupil state and local funds required though the BEP. Students would be counted in the LEA’s student population for purposes of funding calculations.

There would be a limit of 5,000 vouchers in 2013-14, 7,500 the following year, 10,000 the following year and 20,000 in 2016-17 and subsequent years.

Voucher money would be paid directly to the private school. 

If the number of eligible students who submit applications exceeds the permissible number of scholarship available statewide or the available seats at participating schools for any grade level, the department will conduct a random selection process to award scholarships.

Private schools must show achievement growth is at expectations in order to continue participating the voucher program.

Means testing does not appear to be an ongoing requirement once a student qualifies for a voucher.


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