Governor calls for passage of school vouchers, addressing teacher pay, upping price tag per student

KBTX News 3 at Six Weekday(Recurring)
Published: Nov. 1, 2023 at 6:45 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - Just six days before the end of the current Special Session in Austin, which is the third special session of this 88th Legislative Session, Gov. Greg Abbott released an expanded agenda.

This expanded agenda hopes to address public school funding and school vouchers with a higher price tag.

Abbott held a press conference Wednesday morning discussing his proposal, saying he’s confident in the passage of a bill and this will be the last special session.

“We’ve been working tirelessly. Not only just through this special session, but before the special session working both with the House and Senate to make sure that we could put together a school choice program,” he said.

Tuesday, the governor released his plan saying he has reached an agreement with the house speaker, Dade Phelan. According to reports, Phelan stopped short of saying a deal was struck and looks forward to a robust conversation with house leaders.

But with less than a week for those discussions to happen, local school districts say they’re watching.

“I think just probably a level of excitement that school funding is on the agenda. I think it should have been there with the first special session,” College Station ISD Superintendent, Tim Harkrider, said.

Harkrider said in order to be truly excited about the plan, districts around the state are hoping to see an increase in allotment for students. Currently, the state gives districts $6,400 per student and the proposed voucher has now reached $10,400 per student per year.

This is up from the previously proposed $8,000 per student for vouchers.

“Whatever you’re going to consider for vouchers, then public education basic allotments have got to match that. I mean, there’s not a discussion other than that in my mind. If we really want choice, if we really want to give parents the opportunity to take their kids to where they’d like their kids to be educated, that’s perfectly fine, but we need to have the same compensation,” Harkrider said.

Weaved into the plan laid out by Gov. Abbott includes “billions” for teacher pay raises, school safety and a plan to phase out current state testing requirements.