The Pennsylvania Senate has passed a proposal to create vouchers for 17 school districts in 11 counties, including the Pittsburgh Public School District. In all, Allegheny County hosts 18 failing schools.
The proposal would create vouchers for students from low-income families. But, those students would need to be living in one of the school districts containing the worst performing schools.
Some lawmakers say they're against the plan because their constituents wouldn't be eligible. Senator Lisa Boscola, (D- Lehigh County) said since none of those schools are in her district, she'd rather see more state money go to the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program, which funds private school scholarships statewide. "We are helping certain districts and I am saying an increase in the EITC would help my students even more," she said.
Republican Senator Jeff Piccola of Dauphin County said providing vouchers will free up EITC money that would otherwise go to scholarships for students eligible for vouchers. "There's a limited amount of those dollars. $75 million right now. If those kids continue to use that, and are not going to get a voucher, that's going to diminish the amount of money for students all over Pennsylvania."
Senator Jim Ferlo, an Allegheny County Democrat, says he'd rather see the vouchers plan kyboshed. His amendment to do so failed a Senate vote.
The bipartisan-backed plan would provide vouchers ranging from about $6,000 dollars to up to $10,000. In Allegheny County the average would be $8,500.