School voucher bill dies

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A House bill that would have expanded the state’s education voucher program to use tax money to pay private school tuition or for home-schooling died in committee Tuesday.

Local Reps. Becky Currie and Vince Mangold, both Republicans, were listed as co-authors of the legislation.

The bill would have created education savings accounts for students who qualify, subsidizing children in families with incomes up to 3.5 times the federal poverty level. That’s $85,000 a year for a family of four, well above Mississippi’s median household income of $39,000, according to The Associated Press.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The bill would have provided $6,500 a year for special education students, $5,000 for students whose families make less than twice the federal poverty level and $4,000 to students from families making from 200 percent to 350 percent of the poverty level.

At a meeting Monday at the Chamber of Commerce, local educators spoke against the legislation.

“Do you honestly think all these schools are going to accept these children,”  Brookhaven School District Superintendent Ben Cox said. “That’s where I worry, because how much of our state dollars are going to be tied up in lawsuits because they pick and choose students.”

Currie and Mangold both reportedly told the House speaker Tuesday that they no longer supported the legislation.

The House Appropriations Committee failed to consider the bill. Because Tuesday was the deadline for committees to act, the voucher bill died.

The House Education Committee did approve House Bill 91, which would allow students in districts with D and F academic ratings to transfer to any other district. The receiving district would be required to take the student as long as the district had capacity to take him or her.