By MIKE WILLIAMS
The Pulaski County Board of Supervisors has been asked by a county resident to consider implementation of a school choice voucher program.
School vouchers give parents the freedom to choose a private school for their children, using all or part of the public funding set aside for their children’s education.
Under such a program, funds typically spent by a school district would be allocated to a participating family in the form of a voucher to pay partial or full tuition for their child’s private school, including both religious and non-religious options.
Such programs exist in over a dozen states nationally.
In making the request Monday night, county resident Brittany Lambert referenced comments by a citizen – Gina Paine – during the April meeting of the supervisors, which made a correlation between the funds received by the local school division and the results of Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores during those same years.
She said figures showed that as school funding has increased over those years, test scores have “gone down.”
“I’m here tonight to ask the board to consider a future agenda item,” Lambert said during the public comment period of the meeting. “I am requesting this board allocate funds for a school choice voucher program.”
“According to Mrs. Paine’s data, approximately $4,400 of the roughly $16,000 Pulaski County Public Schools gets per student is from local taxes.
“This year, nationwide 1.2 million children were pulled from public schools to be educated in either a homeschool or private school. If my memory serves me correctly, Pulaski County Public Schools stated at the beginning of the school year that around 170 students in Pulaski County do not attend public schools.
“As a parent and a taxpayer in this county, I would like to have a choice as to how my tax dollars are used for my children’s education. I’m sure many others in the county would like to have this option also and have options as to where their children receive their education. Having a school voucher program in Pulaski County would make it more doable for some families who currently do not have the budget for alternative school options.”
She said if a voucher program was in place, “it might attract more alternative schools like private schools and Christian schools to come to the area and offer more choices for the parents of this community.”