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GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Greeneville Board of Education will discuss formally opposing Gov. Bill Lee’s proposed school voucher program at a meeting on Tuesday.
“I think that public funds should support public schools and public entities,” said Steve Starnes, Director of Schools for Greeneville City Schools (GCS). “It shouldn’t be an option that we’re going to apply those funds to another area.”
Starnes told News Channel 11 on Monday that money for the school voucher program would come from taxpayer dollars.
“The voucher supposedly is going to be $7,075, so if you multiply that times ten, that’s the salary, taxes and benefits for a teacher,” said Starnes “If you spread ten students across multiple schools, that would not only lessen the demand for teachers, but it would remove the funding for a teacher.”
Starnes said he feels that public schools are already underfunded, and if they receive less funding, he said school leaders might have to cut teachers and programs.
“I think that when you take public money and you’re able to apply that to a private school or another area, and those private schools or home schools, they are not held to the same accountability as public schools,” said Starnes. “You’re basically diverting those public funds.”
Starnes also added that based on other states’ statistics using a similar program, he said he feels like the voucher program will create more problems.
“Some of the reasons we feel it’s detrimental is that it’s not going to be a benefit,” said Starnes. “Also in Arizona, over 50% of the private schools, once this was enacted, raised tuition 10% which made the gap even further.”
The Greeneville Board of Education will consider a resolution to formally oppose the proposed school voucher program during its meeting on Tuesday at 5 p.m.