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Orange County Focus

MISSION VIEJO : School Trustee Backs Voucher Initiative

August 25, 1993|ANNA CEKOLA

Breaking ranks with many public school educators, Saddleback Valley Unified School District Trustee Frank Ury announced Tuesday that he has formed a group to support the school voucher initiative on the November ballot.

The measure, if approved by voters, would give parents tax-supported vouchers of about $2,600 per pupil to apply toward private or parochial school tuition.

Calling the group "Public Educators for School Choice," Ury said he started faxing a letter to school districts throughout the state last week informing them of the organization.

In the letter, Ury identifies himself only as a member of the California School Board Assn. and calls for a "fair and accurate debate of the merits of school choice and Prop. 174."

The group would not be raising money for the initiative, but providing information on the benefits Ury believes the initiative would bring to parents and students.

"We're getting together to let people in education know there are a lot of people within the education community who are strongly in favor of" the school choice initiative, he said Tuesday.

So far, Ury said, he has received calls from about a dozen school board members in Orange County and from many teachers and administrators in the state.

He has also received support from fellow Saddleback Trustee Debbie Hughes.

"It's not just Frank and I here in Orange County who are supportive of the initiative," said Hughes, who like Ury was elected to the school board on a conservative platform last November.

Others, however, have not been receptive, and Ury's active role in promoting the initiative is causing tension on the Saddleback Valley school board.

"We're disappointed a member of a public school board doesn't acknowledge the damage this initiative would inflict on public schools," Board President Bobbee Cline said. "We don't need the voucher to have choice in the public schools. It's already there."

Jeanne Costales, chairwoman of a south Orange County committee opposed to the initiative, said it causes her "grave concern that Mr. Ury is taking a position as a school board member that is not supported by the California School Boards Assn. nor the Saddleback Valley Unified School District board."

Supporters say the initiative would give parents more choice and save money in the long run. Opponents--including every major professional public education group state--say the initiative would devastate public schools by shifting more than $1 billion in tax revenue to private schools.

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