The Plano ISD board of trustees expressed concerns over a bill that could use taxpayer dollars to help Texas families pay for private education.

What’s happening?

During the board’s Oct. 17 work session, PISD Chief of Staff Danny Stockton briefed the board on education-related bills being considered in the Texas Legislature’s third special session this year.

One such bill is Senate Bill 1, which would allow Texas families to apply for $8,000 per child to pay for private school tuition, books, tutoring, transportation and other educational expenses.

“Vouchers for all Texas school children” is a priority for Gov. Greg Abbott in the special session, according to Stockton’s presentation.

The bill passed a Senate vote on Oct. 13 and will now face the House.

What they’re saying

PISD board President Nancy Humphrey said SB 1 goes against the district’s legislative priorities.

“We’re really focused on funding for public schools, opposing vouchers, and making sure we have a fair and meaningful A-F accountability system,” she said.

Humphrey also expressed several concerns with state funding going toward private education.

“Private schools don’t comply with the state safety standards that our students are provided in public schools, and they lack the financial transparency and the academic transparency,” she said. “[Private schools] choose who is accepted to their schools, while public schools enroll all students. ... [School vouchers] will eventually—because they take money out of the public system—cause irreparable harm to our future workforce.”

Stockton added a universal voucher system would be more costly in Texas than other states that have implemented one.

“There is no eligibility criteria in Senate Bill 1, so the only limitation is the amount of funding that the state is willing to put into it,” he said. “One of the concerns is that the state could prioritize funding to that program over funding to public education. Even if not one student left a public school through this program, you have 1 million eligible students who are already not in public school.”

What else?

As part of a news release announcing the agenda for the third special legislative session of the year, Abbott said the school voucher system will help "chart a brighter future for all Texas children by empowering parents to choose the best education option for their child.”

Stockton said he expects the “most likely” outcome to be no education-related bills passing during this special session, in which case a fourth special session is expected to be called.

The full presentation can be found on Plano ISD’s website, and the progress of SB 1 can also be tracked online.