Bill to give public $$ to private schools? - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Bill to give public $$ to private schools?

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (FOX13) -

A controversial bill that would allow Memphis families to send their children to private schools using state and local funds to pay the tuition will be up for debate on Tuesday.

The bill, in its current form, is the governor's proposal, but changes from lawmakers are expected. We could be headed toward a showdown as there is disagreement on this bill from within the Republican Party.

The bill would allow about 6,500 government dollars per student to go to private schools, instead of Shelby County Schools.

But, the proposal limits participation to low income children who attend a school in the bottom five percent statewide. That's 69 schools in Memphis.

The proposal also limits participation to 5,000 students in the first year.

Tuesday, a house committee will take up the bill, but the real drama is expected in the Senate.

Senator Brian Kelsey says he'll propose an amendment that would expand the program to all low income students, regardless of where they go to school.

"I hope to have all low income children in Memphis become eligible for the program eventually.  We'll see what ends up garnering enough votes to pass," says Kelsey.

But, Governor Haslam does not appear to support any amendments to the bill.

A spokesperson for the Governor told fox13:

"The governor has spent a lot of time studying the issue, and a lot of thought and input has gone into his proposal.  His bill gives low-income students in Tennessee's lowest performing schools another alternative for school choice, and he believes his approach best fits into our state's overall education reform strategy."

The bill will be in the Senate Education Committee on March 20.

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