published Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Tennessee Senate school voucher bill delayed

NASHVILLE — The Senate version of a bill to create a school voucher program in Tennessee has been delayed to allow sponsors of the measure and a competing version to try to work out differences.

The proposal sponsored by Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown was to be discussed in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday but was delayed for two weeks.

The proposal is a competing version of legislation brought by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam that's limited to students from low-income families attending the bottom 5 percent of failing schools. He had that measure withdrawn last year when Senate Republicans sought to expand to a larger number of children.

The measure now being proposed by Kelsey is still broader, affecting students attending the bottom 10 percent of failing schools.

Under that proposal, the program would also be opened to anyone interested if the entire number isn't filled by students from low-income families attending failing schools.

Republican Sen. Dolores Gresham of Somerville is a co-sponsor of the bill and chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. When asked if she or Kelsey had spoken with the governor, she responded: "Everybody is having a dialogue."

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