Central Texas schools weigh in on school choice

Posted at 7:07 PM, Feb 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-20 20:16:04-05

WACO, Texas — Should school choice legislation pass in Texas?

Gov. Greg Abbott believes so. He discussed the possibilities during a visit to Central Texas Christian School on Monday.

The legislation would give parents options on what school to send their child to through state funding.

Belton ISD Superintendent Matt Smith says the legislation raises numerous concerns for public school funding.

With current economic state, Smith says school districts have already lost funding and could lose even more.

Private school vouchers are a major talker in the current Texas legislative session.

One proposal would allow parents up to $10,000 via a voucher for private education.

It raises some questions and concerns for public schools like Belton ISD.

"One of the priorities talks about protecting those funds to go to public schools," said Smith, the Belton superintendent. "We know we have seen an historic rise in inflation over the last couple of years. It impacts every employee in our system and every family in our system.”

Texas public schools receive state funding per student and per the types of needs they may have.

"We don’t yet know how exactly the latest proposal would impact public schools," Smith said. noting public schools do have options for students to choose from.

Smith said it could impact large urban areas with more options for schools. Public schools serve all children and this funding should support every child if passed, Smith said.

“Not just a select few and I think that could have a negative impact on public schools if those type of accountability systems and those discussions are happening along the way," Smith said.

Meanwhile, private schools say more options could be a good thing for parents and students.

"If they had an option and felt like one of their children or all of their children needed a different path that would be best fitted for their purpose it would help them," said Brenda Russell, head of schools for Central Texas Christian.

Meanwhile, Smith says if the legislation passes, he encourages parents to see what all is offered at their child’s current school before moving them.

If the bill passes it would take effect in September, but parents would not have access to the funds until 2024.