EVSC Board approves resolution objecting to House Bill 1005

Updated: Feb. 8, 2021 at 5:14 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation voted to approve a resolution stating their opposition to State House Bill 1005.

If the bill was passed, it would use state funds for grants to allow students to attend private schools.

EVSC’s board voted unilaterally to approve the resolution.

The bill is meant to provide grants to pay private school tuition for students who have disabilities, children of military servicemen and women, and children in foster care.

Sources at EVSC say the $100 million they’d take to do that would be better spent improving public schools.

Members of the board said they were skeptical that the grants would improve the education of all Indiana students.

Specifically, they pointed to the decreased funding for public schools as a sign that education would deteriorate and ultimately lead to a worse workforce in the future.

Communications Officer Jason Woebkenberg says the school has been told it would take $300 million of state funding to raise Indiana teacher pay to the average level in the midwest.

He says diverting funds from efforts like that isn’t fair to the 90 percent of Indiana students who attend public schools.

Superintendent David Smith was part of the commission that determined the amount of funding required to raise teacher compensation.

“I certainly didn’t envision an additional 100 million dollars going to fund a system outside the requirement of the constitution,” Smith said. “At a time where Indiana has repeatedly failed to adequately fund its responsibility to fund K-12 public education.”

The superintendent stressed the words of the state constitution regarding education, and he said that the state providing funds to benefit private schools goes against those principles.

“’To provide for a general and uniform system of common schools where tuition shall be free of charge, and equally open to all,’” Smith quoted. “Equally open to all! That is what’s known as common good, my friends.”

The state representatives who proposed the bill stress that the goal of the bill is to give more families a choice in where their children attend school.

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