Victoria school board opposes vouchers

Jan. 17, 2013 at 9:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 17, 2013 at 7:18 p.m.

The Victoria school board does not support private school vouchers.

On Thursday, the board voted unanimously to approve a resolution opposing the bill that is pending with the state Legislature.

The board discussed the disadvantages of vouchers diverting public money away from public schools and into private school pockets.

Through the widely-discussed public voucher system, parents would receive about $3,000 per year to help fund a private or charter school education per year to fund their students' education.

"Being a lifetime Texan, we're going to get an income tax before we get a voucher system in Texas," said Bernard Klimist, vice president board member. "If we are to go to a voucher system the day it is approve you will have warehouses with uncertified teachers opening schools cattle-pushing students in there to get the regulation money."

Other board members echoed Klimist's sentiments, highlighting the $5.4 billion cut to Texas public schools in 2011.

"They still don't have a handle on how to adequately fund public schools," board member Lou Svetlik said. "It just looks like the Legislature is playing games, and we're being serious."

"We'll be among the first school districts to approve the resolution, with others soon following," said Victoria school district superintendent Robert Jaklich.

At the start of Thursday night's board meeting, Dwight Harris, president of the Victoria chapter of the Texas Federation of American Teachers, offered his support to board members.

"I just wanted to lend my support to your efforts on that," Harris said. "If there's anything we can do to assist or help, we'll be here for that."

Before discussing the resolution, administrative staff members presented data from the Texas Education Agency's 2011-12 Academic Excellence Indicator System.

While white, Hispanic and Asian student scores were included in the advancement placement exam scores reports from 2010 and 2011, scores for African-American students were omitted because of the low number of students scoring a 3 or above.

In 2011, no black student in the school district took an advanced placement exam and scored above a 3, and in 2010 fewer than 30 black students passed an AP exam, said Meredith Hairell, advanced academic coordinator

Board members were surprised with the low numbers of black students taking AP exams.

"They can't afford to do it, but this year VISD is coming to the table and paying for the exam," Klimist said.

Toward the close of the meeting, Klimist stressed the amount of pressure a student endures with the simultaneous weight of standardized testing and college entrance exams.

"We're going to get to a point where students are going to show up with a schedule for tests and go home to learn it," Klimist said. "These seem like a lose-lose situation for our students. We're going to reach critical mass when it comes to testing."

In other business, the board was recognized in the community as part of "School Board Recognition Month.

The board received letters from students thanking them for their work. They also received goody bags.

"It's like Valentine's Day but better," Tami Keeling, board president, said. "These are absolutely the best letters I've ever gotten."



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