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Facing Cuts, Prison Schools Opt for Online Programs

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    The $128 million school system for state inmates could be replaced with online programs to save money.

    Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Florence Shapiro of Plano said Thursday that lawmakers will have to be convinced why the Windham School District, which serves 90 prisons, should be funded.

    Shapiro suggested online instruction could be substituted as part of rehabilitation programs in the Department of Criminal Justice.

    The Austin American-Statesman reports the district, with 1,300 employees, is funded through the Texas Education Agency. Inmates can earn GED and vocational certificates.

    Superintendent Debbie Roberts defended the system, noting that professional educators are working in a "correctional environment."

    Prison system spokeswoman Michelle Lyons says TDCJ is ready to work with legislators. Lyons says providing an education to offenders is an important part of rehabilitation.