School voucher bill could go to vote soon

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OKLAHOMA - It’s called the Oklahoma Education Savings Accounts Act.

HB 2949 would let students at public schools use part of the state funding they get there and instead use it elsewhere, like private school, online school or even home school.

“It’s recognizing that the public school cannot be all things to all people. It’s not a critical statement. But, there are going to be times for whatever reason that it’s just not going to work,” said author Rep. Jason Nelson. “We do this in higher ed. We do it with subsidized day care. We do it within a whole host of other areas.”

Nelson said his bill would actually increase per pupil revenue to public schools because kids who choose to use the program only get a portion of the funds, leaving the rest behind with the public school.

“The more kids that use the program the more money they’re going to leave behind. You’re changing the mathematics in such a way that it’ll increase per pupil revenue in the public school every time,” Nelson said.

Some teacher’s unions and school administrators have come out against the bill saying it could ultimately lessen funding for public schools.

They want to see how this model plays out in other states before trying it here.

Nelson has also been criticized for not setting a salary cap on who can use the program.

But, he said families with an income two times or higher than the free and reduced lunch level would only get 30 percent of the funds.

So, he said the more kids in this category that use it the higher the percentage of money that stays with the public schools.

Nelson also amended the bill to say that a child has to be currently enrolled in public school to use the program, so a child just starting out in private school in pre-k or kindergarten would not be eligible.

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