Local school officials, parents weigh in on school voucher debate

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SHERMAN, TX -- The Texas legislature plans to debate a school voucher - or school choice - program. It's one of the more controversial bills this session.

And some lawmakers want to take funding away from the public schools to implement it.

Sherman ISD Superintendent Al Hambrick said he's in favor of school choice. But doesn't think they should decrease public school funding.

"If the system causes a reduction in the funding that has already been cut, it could cause the schools to not be able to fund some of the programs that our students need," he said.

Phillip Scheibmeir, principal of St. Mary's Catholic School, said a voucher program can create healthy competition between schools.

"It doesn't mean it's across the board the answer," he said. "But I think it does have its place for consideration."

But Scheibmeir said he does have a problem with the state funding private school tuition. He said he'd rather see a tax credit program.

"And not have actual government funds supporting education," he said. "Because on the private school side, we'd prefer that being separate."

A tax credit program would let private school parents write off tuition money from their taxes. It's another proposal by the legislature.

Pete Hudgins sends his two kids to St. Mary's. He thinks the voucher proposal could work.

"In the best sense of competition, I think the ability of parents to choose a school or an institution - be it public or private - will help promote improvement in both of those realms."

But not all parents are in favor.

"No I'm against a voucher system, because it would take money away from public schools and give it to private schools. And everybody can't afford a private school," said Curtis Jones, SISD parent.

But until lawmakers come to a final decision, local schools are playing the waiting game.

"I don't know the impact that it would have," Hambrick said. "So until they really identify how it would work, and how it would be funded."

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