FBISD asks voters for more funding as legislators consider vouchers

Briana Conner Image
Saturday, October 14, 2023
Texas Senate Bill 1 passes: Fort Bend ISD relies on voter relief to support public education
The Fort Bend ISD superintendent speaks to ABC13 on the lack of regulation and mandated testing at private schools as lawmakers mull vouchers that could impact Texas' public schools in a special session.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Texas Senate has passed Senate Bill 1. Now, the school voucher legislation is headed for an uphill battle in the House.

It gives families taxpayer money to pay for private school tuition. Gov. Greg Abbott and other advocates said it gives parents the freedom to choose the best school for their kids, but critics argue this will take resources away from the public school system.

Dr. Christie Whitbeck, the Fort Bend Independent School District superintendent, spoke with ABC13. She pointed out the lack of regulation and mandated testing at private schools.

"The voucher would give $8,000 of taxpayer money to someone to take to another entity, where there is zero accountability for how that money is being used and whether the children even learn," Dr. Whitbeck said. "To me, I am a taxpayer and I question that. How would you be giving less and regulate heavily... and give more and not regulate at all?"

It's still not clear if legislators have deals on the table to tie vouchers together with more teacher pay and per-pupil spending. So, FBISD is going to voters for a second time to ask for that funding.

In 2022, a more expensive ballot initiative did not pass. This November, the district will ask people to vote yes on Proposition 4. It would increase property taxes.

"Our message is pretty simple: Four cents, for teachers, and for safety. That is it. There's $35 million that will come into our district, every year, that we can use for those exact things," Dr. Whitbeck said.

If voters pass Prop A, they would still see savings on property taxes if voters statewide approve cuts passed by the legislature.

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