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Statewide campaign tour against Kentucky school choice amendment kicks off in Paducah

Kentuckians will have a chance to vote on Amendment 2 in the general election on Nov. 5.
Kentuckians will have a chance to vote on Amendment 2 in the general election on Nov. 5.

Education advocates opposing a proposed constitutional amendment that would move funding away from public schools held their first campaign stop in Paducah on Tuesday.

Protect Our Schools KY officially launched last week to oppose Amendment 2, which would change Kentucky’s Constitution to allow tax dollars to go toward private and charter schools.

Kentucky’s Supreme Court struck down previous efforts from lawmakers to send state funds to private and charter schools, ruling that the measures did not align with the state’s current constitutional language.

Campaign representative Kelsey Coots argued the effort to change the state constitution is part of an attempt to enact a school voucher program in Kentucky.

“They said scholarship, tax credits, education, opportunity accounts, whatever these things are, that are fancy rebrand words for vouchers,” she said. “The Kentucky Constitution is the last line of defense for protecting our families from these actors.”

GOP state lawmakers who helped to pass the proposed private and charter school funding amendment argued that allowing tax dollars to go toward institutions outside of public schools would give lower and middle-income families more opportunities and options for their children’s education.

Several states have passed or expanded access to school voucher programs in recent years. Indiana paid nearly $450 million in tuition grants to private schools this school year after expanding eligibility for its voucher program in 2023.

Ballard County Schools Superintendent Casey Allen said sending taxpayer dollars to private schools could hurt some public districts that are already struggling.

“When we're not fully funding public education, it concerns me that we might divert money to private education,” Allen said.

There are no private schools in Ballard County, and only a handful in the Purchase Area, according to the Kentucky Department of Education. Allen said setting aside funds for non-public schools could ultimately mean less money coming to the far western Kentucky county.

“We already struggle, and we make do with what we have. Making do with less in a place where our students wouldn't have an opportunity to pursue these vouchers that might give them a private school education, that's concerning,” he said.

Chad Davidson is a music teacher in McCracken County Schools. He said he’s voting against Amendment 2 because it would decrease public school funding and impact student’s lives beyond the classroom.

“For students who would show up at our school, they would have, now, a not-so-free public education because it's going to cost them more to do sports, to do extracurricular activities like music,” he said. “All the different things that happen in a public school will begin to cost more, because there are less dollars coming into the district.”

Kentuckians will have a chance to vote on Amendment 2 in the general election on Nov. 5.

Copyright 2024 WKMS

Hannah Saad is the Assistant News Director for WKMS. Originally from Michigan, Hannah earned her bachelor’s degree in news media from The University of Alabama in 2021. Hannah moved to western Kentucky in the summer of 2021 to start the next chapter of her life after graduation. Prior to joining WKMS in March 2023, Hannah was a news reporter at The Paducah Sun. Her goal at WKMS is to share the stories of the region from those who call it home. Outside of work, Hannah enjoys exploring local restaurants, sports photography, painting, and spending time with her fiancé and two dogs.