Vouchers Are Gaining Traction in Douglas County

December 2010

Though allowing public school dollars to be transferred to religious and private schools has never quite taken off in Colorado, officials in Douglas County are very interested in ways to implement the idea—however rare. As The Denver Post wrote in a recent article, "nowhere in the country has a voucher program been started to give wealthy students in a high-performing district a choice.” Now, that district is a step closer to making it a reality, after Douglas County's school board voted last night to invest more research into sorting out the pros and cons of the model, notes CW2.

A task force found that vouchers would give about $4,900 to each child who wants to attend a private or religious school. The remaining $1,600 or so per child would go to public schools, creating a "net gain" for public schools, one parent argued. But others think the plan will leave public schools struggling for money. The board voted unanimously to have superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen analyze the proposal, reports The Denver Post, a possible prelude to a full program. It is unclear how the Colorado Department of Education would deal with the district becoming the first in the state to offer vouchers. And the issue of religion is significant, since most of the private schools in the district are religious.