School funding focus of Region 9 forum

WICHITA FALLS - Texoma educators joined a Texas Representative and a candidate for state office during a roundtable.

Teacher & previous ATPE president, Sam Spurlock said, "There's always a need to get teachers involved with what's going on, we've come out of a couple pretty tough sessions and during a session is not the time that you can establish the relationships that you need."

That's why the Association of Texas Professional Educators wanted to organize the forum, so candidates can understand the concerns of those responsible for educating future leaders.

Democratic candidate running for the Texas Lieutenant Governor's office, Mike Collier told us, "The reason why I'm in politics goes back to when we fired 11, 500 teachers back in 2011 based on bad accounting forecast, so I came out of the accounting world to jump in so that it never happens again."

Texas Republican Representative, James Frank added, "It's very important to listen to not just superintendents, not school boards, which are all so very important but  frankly I meet with them a lot, it's also important to meet with teachers themselves." 

Teachers like Jacksboro High School teacher, Janette Epps who wants to know about the future of funding for public schools.

She asked, "Will there be another battle for vouchers to further take away our funding. Where do you all see this coming in the future?" 

Epps is referring to a bill that lawmakers debated in the last session, that would have changed up the system to include vouchers or tax credit scholarships for students. Parents could have applied those dollars to private school tuition costs.

The bill failed to pass, but Representative Frank doesn't feel like it would have impacted schools in North Texas.

Representative Frank answered by saying, "Because I think people are mostly pleased with their school systems, I think we can always do better but it's a really big issue in particularly bigger cities" 

Collier said he feels offering vouchers would be a bad system for all schools across the state, "I have a hard time looking them in the eye and saying a vouchers game is fair," he finished by saying. 

Many professional associations agreed, saying any money put into such programs would have to be taken away from public education.

Those who support moving to a voucher system say it would give more parents options.

We'll have to wait and see what makes lawmakers' agenda, once they reconvene in Austin in 2019.

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