La. education officials expand school voucher program statewide - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Louisiana education officials expand school voucher program statewide

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New Orleans, La. -

State education officials expanded a program Tuesday to help kids attending low-performing public schools get into top tier schools.

More than 7,000 vouchers are available to parents who want to take advantage of the program.

Tiffany Jones' kids attend St. Peter Claver School.  Previously they were in low-performing public schools, but Jones was able to take advantage of the state's pilot voucher program for Orleans Parish to get them into St. Peter Claver.

Jones explains of her daughter, "Since she's come here, she's achieved very, very good grades."

Soon, even more parents across the state will be able to get their kids into better performing schools. That's because education officials have expanded that pilot school voucher program to 124 schools across the entire state.

State Superintendent of Schools John White explains, "The program is open to any parent whose child is entering kindergarten or whose child currently attends a C, D, or F-rated school and who meets the income requirement of 250 percent of the federal poverty line."

White says 123 of those 124 schools are private or parochial.  One is a state-approved public school.

"We're thrilled to be able to offer options in every corner of our state to families who choose it and who feel that they are not currently being offered a choice that meets their child's needs," White said.

Taxpayers will pay tuition for the students.  But the program, White says, is actually going to save taxpayers money because tuition costs are less than what students original schools would've received for them.

"You're going to see a savings of roughly $2,400," White commented.

So far, 2,300 students have enrolled for the 7,400 seats available in the state.  And as far as fears of school overcrowding, the parents we spoke with Tuesday say that's not a concern.

"I know they won't let them get overcrowded. Before they get overcrowded, they break them into two different classes," explained parent Casey Burrows.

In fact, most parents say they're in favor of the program, and the opportunity for more children to get a better education.

June 29 is the last day to fill out a voucher.  Parents will find out by the end of July if their child is accepted into one of the schools in the program.

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