Bellefonte board opposes tuition voucher bill

BELLEFONTE – Bellefonte Area School District strongly believes in supporting and improving the quality of its public schools and public schools across the state.

During its Tuesday night meeting, the school board unanimously passed a resolution that opposes Senate Bill 2. If enacted, the bill would implement tuition voucher systems, which would have negative effects in schools, according to the school board.

“We’re passing it because we want to make a statement about equity,” Superintendent Michelle Saylor told The Express. “The act really doesn’t address equity. There really isn’t any consideration for who would receive the funds and we really feel that it’s going to take necessary resources away from public education.”

In the bill, educational savings accounts would be created for students who live within the boundaries of what are considered to be low-achieving public schools so that they can attend private schools. Effectively, this would be at the expense of students’ local school districts and give taxpayer money to the private schools.

One reason the school board says it opposes the bill is that it would not require participating private schools to use the same standardized assessments as used by public schools. The resolution states that it would make it unachievable to make comparisons of evaluations of students’ academic progress.

Another reason for the district rejecting the bill is because a tuition voucher system under the bill would consider families regardless of their income or individual need. According to the resolution, this would create greater gaps for students who come from families with lower incomes. It would instead benefit students who are already enrolled in private schools and/or have never attended a targeted public school.

Another negative effect would be that of financial fraud and abuse, as the resolution states that voucher systems in other states have proven to be vulnerable to these problems.

Various school boards across the state have passed similar resolutions opposing the Senate bill.