LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Southern Indiana's largest school districts are joining forces in the fight against new private school voucher funding.
The New Albany Floyd County and Greater Clark County Schools teachers' unions are working together to oppose funding an expanded private school voucher program and a new Education Savings Accounts program under House Bill 1001, the state budget bill.
"Bottom line, Indiana public schools teach 90% of the students. The current budget they have proposed is going to take $491 million away from the public schools to fund the 10% (of students) that go to private schools," said Lisa McIntyre, president of the New Albany Floyd County teacher's union.
Similar legislation was proposed earlier in the session under HB 1005, but Mark Felix, president of Greater Clark's teacher's union, says it's been added into the state's budget bill instead.
Lawmakers like Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, have told WDRB News that an expanded voucher program would allow more families to find the best fit for their child, because of situations like bullying or special needs.
Some vouchers could become available to households making up to $145,000 per year, something public school teachers take issue with.
"My wife and I are both teachers, and our combined salaries are not $145,000," Felix said. "If you make (that much), you can afford to send your child to a private school on your own dime, and not expect the taxpayers of Indiana to do it for you."
Felix said the bill is concerning for some of the state's rural areas, where private schools often don't exist. "They're still gonna have to pay it, bottom line," he said.
Many lawmakers have committed to increasing funding for education, but teachers at both districts say the funding should be used for improvements to public school communities.
"When things go wrong in the community schools, that will affect the businesses," said McIntyre. "That's gonna affect people wanting to live here."
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