CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC)
The Louisiana Scholarship Program, commonly known as the voucher system, is in its first week of operation. Two schools in the Lake Area are a part of the program, and one says, so far, it's a success.
"It's worked out just like I was hoping it would work out," said Jennifer Bellon, principal of St. Theodore Holy Family Catholic School in Moss Bluff. "I mean, I prayed, prayed, prayed, but it really has."
Her school is one of two Lake Area schools that applied for scholarship students and received 12 of their original 23 applications.
"We only filled 12 positions that wanted to come and filled positions, registered and are here today," Bellon said.
With the demand for the new program, the Louisiana Department of Education started notifying parents on Friday of a second round lottery system.
"We anticipated probably about 2,000 students would apply. We got more than 10,300 applications," said LDOE Press Secretary, Barry Landry. "So, the number of students and the interest of parents has far exceeded our expectations for year one."
The second round will only pick students from the first stack of applications.
"The second round was so the students who did not receive an offer in the first round, could possibly be accommodated in one of the participating non-public schools," Landry said.
In the second round of the lottery, Bellon hopes to add 10 students to the already existing 12 students at Holy Family using the scholarship program. That would bring the total number of students to 22, which is just one student shy of the 23 she originally applied for.
"If we're all about doing what we're supposed to be doing, then that's what's going to happen," Bellon said.
While the statewide program has gained attention on both sides of the positivity spectrum, Bellon sees the importance of giving kids the opportunity to succeed.
"I don't know what the answer is to education, per say, but if we're all called to make a difference in children's lives, then I think that's what we're called to do," she said. "When there are negatives going on it makes me more determined to say we can do it."
All families will be notified of the second round status by Labor Day.