Lawmaker Pushes Stipends for Private School Students
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri State House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education heard a bill Wednesday that would allow students wishing to attend private schools to get stipends from the state. The bill, sponsored by Republican Representative Jason Barnes, would repeal an existing amendment in the Missouri constitution that prohibits state funding from going to religious schools. The bill is in its early stages, but already people on both sides of the issue are voicing their concerns.
Didier Aur, the president of Helias High School, said he thinks this bill would give access to private education to more kids, but could cause some problems. He believes part of why Helias can offer the quality of education they can is because of small class size and worries that increasing the number of students might hurt the overall quality of education.
On the other side of the issue, many parents and public school officials worry the bill would take money away from public school students.
Several parents with students in the Jefferson City Public Schools met with the superintendent Wednesday and discussed this issue. They worry whether this law looks after the kids in public schools.
"This would potentially funnel money away from public schools," Jefferson City Public Schools spokesman David Luther said, "And if private schools aren't held to the same accountability with that money it would really tilt the playing field."
And Aur, feels some issues need ironing out on the private school end as well.
"Our government is trying to fund the A-plus program and various other programs and having a hard time doing that, so realistically, looking at it, do we really have the money to do this," Aur said.
But he also sees a bright side.
He said that, "if something like this passes, every student who wants a private education would likely be able to afford one."