More schools planned for La. voucher program
More schools are seeking to participate in Louisiana’s voucher program next year, according to a list released Wednesday; however, the number in St. Mary Parish remained the same.
Central Catholic High School in Morgan City will again participate in the voucher program — the only school to do so in the parish.
Deacon Vic Bonnaffee, school principal, said Central Catholic will offer slots to students in grades seven through 11.
The 43 openings include 15 in seventh grade; 10 in eighth; 15, ninth; two, 10th; and one, 11th. The numbers reflect openings for students currently enrolled under the voucher system as well as any open seats for new students to join the school, Bonnaffee said.
In the 2012-13 school year, nine former public school students accepted scholarships to attend Central Catholic High School on its opening day under the state’s Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence program.
The school had 34 spaces available and 16 students applied to fill them. Out of those, 14 students were assigned.
The students who applied came from the territories of Franklin, Patterson and Morgan City high schools in St. Mary Parish as well as Assumption High School in neighboring Assumption Parish.
The Department of Education said 133 private schools have been approved to receive voucher students in the 2013-14 school year, up from 117 schools this year. A high-performing St. Landry Parish public school also will continue to take students seeking to leave lower-performing schools through the voucher program.
The student application was released Wednesday, available online and at participating schools, with a March 15 deadline.
Superintendent of Education John White is moving ahead with a new year of the Louisiana Scholarship Program, even as questions remain about how the voucher slots will be funded.
A Baton Rouge judge declared voucher financing through the public school funding formula to be unconstitutional. If the Louisiana Supreme Court upholds the ruling, lawmakers would have to pay for the program another way to continue the vouchers.
The education department estimated vouchers will cost the state about $25 million this school year, with more than 4,900 students enrolled.
The taxpayer-financed tuition at private and parochial schools is available to students from low- to moderate-income families who otherwise would attend public schools graded with a C, D or F by the state. Priority is given to students in D- and F-rated schools.
If more students apply than slots are available, the seats are awarded through a lottery process. Applicants will find out if they’ve received a voucher by mid-April.
Additional reporting from The Associated Press.