During a brief special board meeting Friday Washington Community Schools approved a resolution opposing education savings accounts and voucher expansion.
Washington Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Roach said the Indiana General Assembly currently is considering House Bill 1005 and Senate Bill 413 which are in favor of expanding the school voucher programs and creating education savings accounts.
“Senate Bill 412 I think is dead now but I think it’s important to keep it in our resolution in case it pops back up as a part of something else,” said Roach, who said 95% of students in this area attend public schools and that the school board would oppose any bill that would expand vouchers or create the education savings accounts.
The school board’s resolution states that,”The Indiana General Assembly should not enact Education Savings Accounts, or expand vouchers, and should continue to promote and fully invest in Indiana’s public schools, more specifically,
- To further the public good, public funds should be invested in improving the schools designed to serve all children and to aid in improving Indiana public school teachers’ salaries as recommended by the Governor’s Teacher Compensation Commission in its report of December 14, 2020.
- Indiana already has school choice in the form of open enrollment, charter schools, enrollment in virtual online schools and the Choice Scholarship program.
- Public schools are required to operated in an open, transparent way with all expenditures and decision-making. Nonpublic schools are not held to that same public standard.
- Legislators should reduce the over-regulation of state and federal bureaucracy that hinders the ability of local schools to innovate and be responsive to parent and community needs.”
Those education savings accounts and school vouchers Roach said are covered exclusively by the state tuition support fund meaning that fewer public dollars go to fund public schools and increase teacher salaries.
“Public schools provide a strong educational environment for Indiana’s children,” said Roach. “Education savings accounts, if enacted, and expanded school vouchers wold put this environment at risk by directing resources away from those schools to nonpublic schools and/or home schools that are not subject to the same rigorous scrutiny for their use of taxpayer resources.”
Senator Eric Bassler is one of the sponsors of HB 1005, a $200 million bill that would increase the income level for people to use vouchers and offer vouchers for families with special needs and foster children to spend state money for education of their choosing. The bill also provides money for vouchers for the children of military families.
In an interview earlier this week, Bassler said picking a child’s school should be a family decision.
“Schools should be a family decision,” said Bassler. “All this bill does is give families the money to explore more options on what the best decision is for them.”
Before adjourning, the school board also approved a request from the NJROTC program to travel to Richland County in Illinois for a rifle contest in March.