OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - The direction of public education could take a dramatic turn, depending on who becomes the next Oklahoma Governor.
Like the candidates for State Superintendent, incumbent Governor Kevin Stitt and opponent current-State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister cannot agree if school vouchers help Oklahoma and its students or not.
Governor Kevin Stitt supports 'school choice' vouchers.
"Governor Stitt's focus is funding students directly, not systems or buildings," said Kate Vesper, the Governor's Press Secretary, in part of a statement.
Governor Stitt's office was made aware of News 4's story on Friday, September 16. His office agreed to an in-person interview for Tuesday, September 20, but then provided a statement instead.
Joy Hofmeister, spending the last seven years as State Superintendent, is running against Governor Stitt in November. She is the Democratic candidate.
Hofmeister says she opposes vouchers because she wants to continue growing the resources for public school educators.
"Let's double down and recommit to a strong public education system, all across the state," said Hofmeister.
Vouchers have been a topic in Oklahoma for years.
A voucher program would allow parents to send their kids to private schools, using tax funded money to choose an alternative to their local public school.
Vesper said the Governor believes all children should have, "access to first-rate education and students should not be limited to where they live, who their parents are, or what their parents can afford."
But Hofmeister sees the program as a rural school killer.
"It is going to first impact rural communities because they're just smaller and they're not going to be able to handle the swings and volatility in the amount of resources that would then be fewer and shrinking," said the state superintendent.
On Monday, KFOR talked to Rep. Logan Phillips, a Republican from Tulsa, and he calculated that a voucher program would cost a county like Grady County $1.7 million.
Hofmeister does not want to see that money leave public education.
"We can't afford to have someone profiting and take funds outside for private use when we do not have what we need right now for Oklahoma public school kids," said the Democratic candidate.
With Governor Stitt focusing on funding the individual student, Vesper said it's about what's best for each child.
"Education freedom is key to Oklahoma becoming a Top Ten state," said Governor Stitt's press secretary.
Kevin Sims is superintendent of Minco Public Schools, which is in Grady County.
He is happy with the current state formula for funding public schools.
"If we put vouchers into place, it changes the whole system of school funding and it would be a pretty big job and I don't see the need for it," said Sims.
The superintendent does not want money for public schools funneled into private schools, potentially losing its transparency.
"How are these dollars audited," asked Sims. "We're audited annually, and I'm glad we are. It shows that, hey, we're doing the right thing with our dollars."