Sunday, February 27, 2011

WJH directors oppose vouchers - McKeesport Daily News Feb 25

West Jefferson Hills school directors oppose vouchers
McKeesport Daily News Feb 25
By STACY LEE Daily News Staff Writer

West Jefferson Hills school board is voicing its disap­proval of school vouchers.

The board adopted a resolution earlier this week opposing proposed legis­lation that would provide direct financial aid to or tuition tax credits or vouch­ers for state residents enrolled in non-public schools.

“Vouchers take taxpay­er dollars out of the sys­tem of public education to fund private schools,” school board president Shauna D’Alessandro said. “It’s taxpayer money that is not accountable when it leaves the public school system. They are not subject to the Sunshine Law and they are not subject to the Right-to-Know law. They don’t have to follow the myriad of school code laws that we have to, so there is no guarantee that the public’s tax dollars are going to be spent wisely.” She said there is no evidence that private schools do any better than public schools.

Senate Bill 1 or the Opportunity Scholarship and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act was intro­duced in the Pennsylvania Senate last month. It would give tuition vouchers to stu­dents from lower income homes to be used for public, private or religious schools.

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association said the program cost has been esti­mated to be $54.3 million in the first year, $156.3 mil­lion in the second year and $1.22 billion in the third and later years.

“Public schools
 educate all children,” D’Alessandro said. “Private schools have the choice. When they talk about choice in education, private schools have the choice to reject children.” West Jefferson Hills act­ing superintendent Dr. Timothy McNamee said the school vouchers have been declared unconstitutional in many states already.

“I feel that this proba­bly will be challenged and found unconstitutional in Pennsylvania as well if it was implemented here,” he said.

“Commonwealth fund­ing should be provided to support the costs of public school initiatives only after the state fulfills its commit­ment to adequacy and equi­ty,” the resolution states.

In other legislative school news, West Jefferson Hills district officials expressed their condolences after the Feb. 18 passing of Timothy Allwein, PSBA assistant executive director of gov­ernmental and member rela­tions.

“He was a dear friend, a colleague and a staunch sup­porter of public education,” said D’Alessandro, who sits on the PSBA board of directors. “He joined PSBA staff in 1991 as the director of legislative services and in 2001 was promoted to his current position, where he was a chief lobbyist for the school boards association.” “It’s a big loss,” district solicitor Ira Weiss said. “He was a fixture in the legisla­tive circle.”

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