The Tennessee Senate approved the launch of the state’s first school voucher program, but its chances of starting up this fall remain in doubt.
Senators voted 20-10 to pass a plan that would give the families of as many as 5,000 schoolchildren vouchers for private school tuition. But companion legislation remains bottled up in the House of Representatives, raising the likelihood that lawmakers will adjourn for the year without settling on a plan to roll vouchers out.
Senate Bill 196, which has the backing of Gov. Bill Haslam, would create vouchers primarily for low-income families whose children are assigned to low-performing schools in five districts: Metro Nashville, Knox County, Hamilton County, Hardeman County and Shelby County. The proposal calls for initially issuing as many as 5,000 vouchers, scaling up to 20,000 in four years.