RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – School board members in one mid-state county are saying no to school vouchers.
The Rutherford County School Board will meet Wednesday and could vote on a resolution opposing school vouchers, saying they are not in the best interest of public schools or students in a school district where students are performing at high levels and achievement comes first.
“We have a stellar school system,” said school board member Lisa Moore. “We are very proud of it.”
That’s one of the reasons the Rutherford County School Board is opposed to the vouchers.
“It’s going to tear down the foundation of our public schools. You’re pulling millions of dollars from our schools for these vouchers to try, on the off chance of trying, to help a few students,” Moore said.
A bill before state lawmakers, if passed and becomes law, would give students on free-and-reduced lunch at low performing schools $6,000 to attend private school.
“When you look at it at the end of the day, it’s about the money, not about the kids,” Moore said.
Board members said it’s like giving up on those schools.
“Throwing in the towel and throwing in the stretch of the voucher is waving a white flag saying we give up and we got no answer for a need that may be present,” board member Aaron Holladay told News 2 by phone.
The Rutherford County legislative delegation has defended the school voucher program, basically saying it will help students in low-performing schools in Metro Nashville, Shelby, Knox and Madison counties.
“We are not without compassion or heart for those children in Memphis and Knoxville that are at low-performance schools,” Moore said. “When you look at school systems like Rutherford County and Williamson County that are at the top of their game, that money would be so much more wiser invested fixing those schools.”
The school board members said the state should use Rutherford County as one example of how to make a school system work with what it has.
“We’re committed in Rutherford County in we perform in educating our students at over $1,000 less than the state average for expenditure, and we keep the pyramid flat and emphasize on the classroom,” Holladay said. “That’s a model that can be replicated and can be held up to other systems across the state.”
Murfreesboro City Schools approved a resolution Tuesday night also opposing school vouchers.
That state voucher bill has been send to the House of Representatives and is scheduled for a floor vote on Monday.