Correction: In the original story a quote was not attributed to the accurate source and that has been fixed.
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Private versus public schools, the fight continues over school vouchers at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
On Wednesday, a controversial bill was in front of a Senate Appropriations Committee that would allow parents to use money originally earmarked for their child in public schools to go towards private or home schooling.
The Oklahoma Empowerment Act narrowly passed through the Senate Education Committee earlier this month.
The verbiage on how it will be funded will be up for debate in front of the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, and it’s the money that is causing questions for some.
“I want to make sure that people have a full array of choices on their kid’s education,” said Sen. Greg Treat. The Senate Pro Tempore is talking about Senate Bill 1647, “The Oklahoma Empowerment Act.” It would take the roughly $3,600 dollars the state would normally spend a year on a public school student’s education, put it in a savings account and allow the parent to put that towards a private or home school education if they choose.
“Parents need the power. We are trying to give it to them,” said Treat.
But what would that $3,619 get at a private school..
Here is a list of some private high schools in the metro and the cost of tuition:
- Casady – $23,225
- Heritage Hall – $22,780
- Bishop McGuinness – $15,325
- Trinity – $14,250
- Infinity Generation – $12,000
- Crossings – $10,700
Tuition alone ranges from $10,000 to just over $23,000 dollars.
KFOR asked a metro mother if taking her child out of public school and sending them to private schools with the $3,600 dollars was an option.
“You know making up the difference of the rest of the money to pay for private school, I wouldn’t be able to do that,” said Edmond parent Jessica Rice.
“This wouldn’t even begin to pay what the tuition would be for many of our private schools,” said Katherine Bishop, President of the Oklahoma Education Association.
State Education Association officials say don’t forget about outside cost like food and transportation services not provided by most private schools.
“I’m committed to putting more money in the state aide formula. I don’t want any negative effect on traditional public schools; in fact, I want a positive effect,” Said Treat.
But OEA officials say the bill would cost the over 700,000 public school students over $260 million in funding.
“The gains that the legislature has provided over the last five years will be automatically cancelled,” officials said.
Charles McCall, the Oklahoma Speaker of the House, has gone on record saying the bill will not pass the house this session, but political action groups are running television ads to combat the Republican from Atoka.
The bill will go before committee Wednesday at 10 a.m.