The board voted 7-0 on Tuesday night for the school choice voucher program.
The decision came after a heated debate during the board's meeting. More than 300 people showed up to the meeting and dozens of people spoke for and against the program.
The program is a voucher system for 500 Douglas County students. Each will get 75 percent of the education money provided by the state to choose the school of their choice, whether it is public or private. The other 25 percent of the funds stay with the Douglas County School District.
Some believe this will drive students away from the district, which means driving revenue down at a time when the district is facing huge budget cuts.
"I think with the general public not understanding school funding and school finance, they are going to see this scholarship program as public money being used to finance private education and they are not going to support a mill levy increase," a speaker named Denise said.
"The bottom line for us is that in these times of deep budget cuts to education, why is our school board intentionally considering implementing a program that they know will take money from our schools and hurt our students," Delana Maynes said while speaking at the meeting.
Others say it will bring more money into the district because they will still get part of the education money per student without having to spend money to teach them.
Some also believe the program is supporting religious education because more private schools are religiously affiliated.
"We have got a room here split in half. Half are afraid of Jesus in the classroom. I'm afraid of failures in the classroom, which is what I'm subsidizing through my income sales tax right now," Dave Decarlo, another speaker, said.
The voucher program will start next fall and will be reevaluated each year. If more than 500 students sign up for the voucher program, it will be done through a lottery.
The district plans to have more details on its website at www.dcsdk12.org.
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