School choice bill could become law next week if lawmakers override Gov. Beshear’s veto

School choice bill could become law next week if lawmakers override Beshear’s veto
Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 5:08 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The school choice bill could become law next week if Kentucky lawmakers override the governor’s veto of the bill.

House Bill 563 would allow students to attend school outside of their home district through education opportunity accounts. The governor vetoed the bill Wednesday, saying it would harm public schools.

The bill’s sponsor said the governor vetoed the legislation to appeal to his base. Governor Andy Beshear said his administration’s number one goal is to put public education first, which he said this bill goes against.

“It’s a bill and a concept that unfortunately we find the KEA teachers’ union doesn’t support,” said Rep. Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown.

Lawmakers are split over House Bill 563.

High school senior Gabriella Staykova opposes the bill. She’s part of the Kentucky Student Voice Team.

“The educational opportunity accounts, which are going to move money to private schools, I think are also really scary for the funding we see in public education, especially with the tax write-off,” Staykova said.

Madison County mother Desirae Caudill feels differently.

“I feel like the money should follow the child. If private school is in the best interest of my child, then why can’t my tax dollars go to that?” Caudill said.

Staykova said, five years down the road, she’s worried what schools will look like if the bill becomes law.

“I’m really worried how this is going to impact the demographics of our schools, especially when we’re looking at what students are able to move from district to district,” Staykova said.

Caudill said the bill gives parents choices for their children’s education.

“It’s just amazing for everyone to have a choice. Public school is great but it’s not for everyone. Parents being able to choose what kind of education their children get, that just means so much,” Caudill said.

She said as a single, working mom, she couldn’t physically support her children through online learning.

“This year was actually our first year in private school. We made the change due to the COVID pandemic and needing in-person instruction,” Caudill said.

Staykova said, as a student, she sees the effects of a lack of funding going toward public schools.

“We’re not actually increasing the opportunities for students in the public school system. We’re just worsening the opportunity gaps between the schools,” Staykova said.

Lawmakers return to the Capitol next week. 51 votes are needed to override the governor’s veto.

Rep. McCoy said he is “confident that [he] will be able to override it.”

He said he has no doubt this bill will be challenged in court. Beshear said Wednesday he anticipated it would be. McCoy said he’s prepared for an uphill battle.

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