Tax voucher program could affect Siouxland student families

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – A bill that would provide a tax voucher for parents who want to send their kids to a non-public school has landed in the Iowa Legislature.

Those opposing the bill said using tax dollars to help parents send their child to a private or charter school is an extreme approach with unintended consequences.

But, those in favor said it could provide families with more options when it comes to education.

Under Senate File 159, the Student First Scholarship Program allows certain students K-12 to qualify for a 5,200 voucher each school year.

“On the side of non-public schools everywhere we just feel like this is a really good opportunity for Siouxland families to have choice. We know that not every student is the same in fact every student deserves a unique personalized experience,” Lindsay Laurich, Superintendent of Siouxland Christian School.

Laurich said the bill opens up a pool of new students. And, some parents agree.

“It’s going to open up a whole new community of students and parents and that can join us who were previously unable to do that. So I think the exciting thing about that is it adds diversity and depth to our community. I can’t think of anything but benefits to be able to open that up,” parent Marjo Stevens said.

But, one local state Senator said the bill starts the process of using public tax dollars to pay for private schools which she said could do more harm than good.

“Iowa can’t afford two systems. We’re not even paying enough for our public schools. One system,” Iowa State Senator Jackie Smith, said.

Senator Smith said the voucher program puts more pressure on an already struggling public school system.

“It’s going to really hurt the kids that are still in the schools because there’s going to be less money going to those schools. If this trend continues rural schools will close there won’t be rural public school options,” Senator Smith said.

The Iowa Senate passed File 159 and was passed on to the Iowa House of Representatives. It’s currently sitting with the House Education Committee.

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