State education voucher bill will affect SCS funding and enrollment, expert says

WATCH: State education voucher bill will affect SCS funding and enrollment, expert says

SHELBY CO., Tenn. — As a new school year approaches Shelby County Schools will be one of the two Tennessee school districts that will see the most changes because of the state’s new education voucher bill.

State leaders passed Gov. Bill Lee’s bill last spring. It will affect both funding and enrollment at many inner-city schools.

“The biggest change is going to be low enrollment. A lot of students, a lot of parents they are going to take the voucher. They are going to go elsewhere. They are going to go where more options are,” said education professional Eric Dunn.

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Dunn said students in classrooms the first 20 days of this school year will be crucial for SCS. In the long run, it will cost schools funding dollars that are given to them by the state.

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The voucher bill is meant to take students from low-performing schools and allow them to go to better schools.

“Private schools are going to be busting wide open,” said Dunn.

In 2021, more than 5,000 students from SCS and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools will receive vouchers to attend non-traditional public schools.

By 2024, more than 15,000 students will be in the program from each school district – costing the state around $335 million.

"A student is going to succeed in any school they are in as long as they have the right teacher, right academics, and right leadership within your school building,” Dunn said.

Parents enrolling their students in the program will get a debit-style card to pay for tuition and other approved expenses.