School board opposes voucher program

The St. Marys Area School Board of Directors approved a list of items during their regular meeting held Monday evening. Among them was a resolution opposing Senate Bill 1, which would implement a tuition voucher program within the Commonwealth. The board voted unanimously to approve the resolution opposing the bill.The resolution states that "an implementation of a tuition voucher program, over-expansion of any existing tax credit program or incentivizing a student's transfer out of the public education system in any way takes financial resources away from traditional public schools and diminishes the great strides that have been made in those schools and increases the burden on property taxpayers and their resident school districts working toward greater academic success."Included in the resolution is information stating that unlike nonpublic and private schools, public schools must accept and educate children regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion or academic talents, as opposed to those institutions that are able to reject applicants based on low academic performance, discipline issues or any number of other factors.It continues by stating that public schools are held to strict accountability standards in an effort to measure student achievement and academic progress, unlike private and parochial schools which are not required to give state assessments or publish student achievement data."There is no consistent evidence to demonstrate that students who utilize vouchers make any better academic progress in nonpublic or private schools than they did prior to transferring," stated the resolution. The SMASD school board is encouraging its elected officials, parents, students and district taxpayers to do the same by opposing the bill for the negative consequences it would have on the school district and public education system at large.