LUBBOCK, Texas — Abernathy ISD Superintendent, Aaron Waldrip, said he’s afraid of losing students and funding to other education options if the momentum for Senate Bill One continues into the Texas House of Representatives.
“A potential voucher program would hurt our funding and limit our ability to educate our own kids,” said Waldrip. “Really, it seems like they’ve held public schools hostage, you know, saying that, ‘We’re not going to give you anything if we can’t pass vouchers.’”
Senate Bill One would allocate $8,000 for families to put towards private school tuition, and about $1,000 for homeschooling right now. Tim Lambert, president of the Texas Home School Coalition, said he’s eager about the possibility of state funding going to families instead of just schools.
“The vast majority of homeschoolers probably spend somewhere between… $500 and $1,000 a year on curriculum, so if a home store gets to spend up to $1,000 on curriculum that would be a boon to a lot of homeschoolers,” Lambert said over the phone.
Stephen Cox, the superintendent of Trinity Christian Schools said he feels if the House passes a bill with the funding too, one of the biggest attendance barriers of private schools will be lowered.
“About 10 to 12% of our students actually are on some sort of financial assistance, and today what that means is that’s money that we raise through donors to help cover the cost for students whose families have great financial need,” described Cox. “I think these funds would really open that door to those families who just find it too difficult to pay for a private education.”
However, Dr. Michelle McCord, superintendent of Frenship ISD, said her public schools are funded by attendance numbers, and they’re already getting less money per student than this bill would offer private school students.
“There were billions of dollars left on the table because legislators could not agree on how to spend it all around the voucher,” said Dr. McCord. “And any dollars that you take away from Texas public schools means something less that we’re going to be able to do so in Texas public schools.”
Those in smaller districts, like Abernathy, fear it could have a more widespread impact for them.
“We employ a lot of people in our community,” said Waldrip. “The people who live here, the kids go to school here, their grandkids go to school here.”
Yet, those parents, grandparents and all others in the conversation say they ultimately want one thing: the best education for their students.
“My biggest hope and biggest desire is to ensure that every family for us that wants a Christian education, that finances are never a barrier to do that,” said Cox.
“I am hopeful that, you know, there’s still hope that there’s money there that can be used to support really our teachers and kids,” Waldrip.
Those on all sides said they don’t expect to see a mass exodus of students between public, private and home school systems.