School Vouchers continue to be discussed by the Tennessee General Assembly, but Rutherford County Schools do not fall in the category of under-performing like some schools in the state.
Paula Barnes with the Rutherford County Schools stated...
Barnes is the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources & Student Services. She went on to state that Rutherford County Schools are successful...
So far, the voucher program has not passed. However, if it does pass it is written so that students who utilize the program must be in their zoned school that has been identified as being in the bottom five percent of achievement rankings in Tennessee public schools. The parent or parents of the student must meet certain income requirements too (Read the full proposal of the bill below).
SUMMARY OF House Bill 336:
Enacts the Tennessee Choice and Opportunity Scholarship Act. Creates a statewide voucher program. Authorizes eligible students to apply for and receive vouchers to attend participating non-public schools. Requires students to meet certain eligibility requirements including, but not limited to, being zoned for or currently attending a school that is identified as being in the bottom five percent of schools in overall achievement data and meeting certain age and income requirements. Requires non-public schools to provide annual notice to the Department of Education (DOE) of their intent to participate and to comply with all other participation requirements.
Requires the DOE to administer the program, and sets forth specific departmental administrative tasks including, but not limited to, providing annual notice of students' eligibility to parents; determining and approving initial and continuing eligibility for participating schools; and remitting voucher payments to participating schools. Authorizes voucher students to enroll in another participating school without loss of eligibility, if a participating school is deemed ineligible. Sets forth the procedures that shall be followed if the number of eligible students exceeds the number of vouchers awarded at a specific school for a specific grade level, and if there are vouchers available after all possible matches have been made between participating schools and eligible students.
Requires the annual voucher amount to be the lesser of the participating school's annual tuition and fees or the amount of the required state and local Basic Education Program (BEP) funding per pupil. Requires students receiving the voucher to continue to be counted toward the average daily membership (ADM) of the local education agency (LEA). Requires LEAs to continue funding their portion of the required BEP per pupil expenditure (PPE) for participating students. Authorizes LEAs to retain any local funding above and beyond the BEP local match requirement. Requires any remaining funds to be retained by the DOE and the LEA, with specific amounts based on the LEA's state and local BEP funding share division, if a participating school's tuition and fees are less than the required state and local BEP per pupil expenditure (PPE).
Requires the DOE to apply for use of federal funds in accordance with federal law in the event that federal funds are made available.
Caps the statewide voucher program for LEAs with a school in the bottom five percent of achievement at 5,000 vouchers for FY17-18; 7,500 vouchers in FY18-19; 10,000 vouchers in FY19-20; and 20,000 vouchers in FY20-21 and subsequent years.
2 HB 336 - SB 380 Authorizes the State Board of Education (SBE) to promulgate rules and regulations to effectuate the dissemination of vouchers.