MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -Montgomery County School Board passed resolution asking lawmakers to repeal an act allowing students in a failing school to transfer to a non-failing school using state tax dollars Tuesday night.
Lesa Keith, vice president on the Montgomery County School Board, does not want to repeal the Alabama Accountability Act.
“When you have a government giving you a chance to come out of poverty to be a part of the learning system, would you not buy into that? And why would a board of education try and stop that?” said Keith.
Several board members said when students transfer to a private school, it takes away tax dollars the school needs.
“We’re tight. Things are short. We need textbooks. You know we have a lot of needs and so every bit counts. What we’re asking is for public funds to be kept in public schools," said Melissa Snowden, a Montgomery Public School Board member.
Montgomery Public School Board members passed the resolution below 5-1, asking lawmakers to repeal the act, with one board member absent. The Alabama Education Association said nearly $5.8 million has been taken from local schools through the accountability act.
The resolution mentioned a University of Alabama study about the academic achievements of students who opted for private school versus public school.
“There’s no better outcome for those that have opted for the private school. So they’re diverting public money and we’re not seeing a positive help for those students," Snowden said.
However, supporters of the act said they want parents to have the choice where to send their kids.
“And for us to try and take that away, an education that is offered, is criminal," Keith said.
The Alabama Accountability Act passed in 2013. A list released in January of 2018 defined 75 schools as failing, including 11 schools in Montgomery County. It is based on reading and math scores.
State Sen. Trip Pittman is a supporter of the Act. He said because of lawmaker’s fiscal responsibility, they have balanced every budget without proration, created $200 million in the stabilization fund, and have helped grow the Education budget by $400 million. He said the accountability act cost around $40 million.
“That cost is an investment. Those children are putting it back into the economy," he said. “They are getting an education that will hopefully help them to be more successful and to help our society.”
Baldwin County Board of Education also passed a resolution asking lawmakers to repeal the act. Cecil Christenberry, a member of the board, said he thinks the accountability act has not worked.
“It just seems that it’s money that could be used in public education that’s being taken from that area and being put in a private situation,” Christenberry said. “Our board takes that very seriously because we are scrambling for those precious dollars.”