More than 4,900 enroll in state voucher program - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

More than 4,900 enroll in state voucher program

BATON ROUGE, LA (KPLC) -

Less than 10 Calcasieu Parish students have enrolled in Our Lady School and 14 have enrolled in St. Theodore's Holy Family Catholic School under the state's newly expanded voucher program, according to numbers released Thursday by the Louisiana Department of Education.

According to the Associated Press, state education officials say more than 4,900 students from poorly performing public schools have taken advantage of the program, which uses government money to pay their tuition.

The wire service reports that the state said 14 percent of students using vouchers came from public schools that earned a C in the state's school accountability program; most – 69 percent -- were from schools that made a D; 17 percent were from schools considered failing.

State officials said the scholarship program includes 118 schools, including one traditional public school and 117 non-public schools. In addition to students in the scholarship program, non-public schools educate about 14 percent of the total students in Louisiana and about 28 percent of students in New Orleans.

All students who received a scholarship were in families with incomes below 250 percent of the Federal poverty guideline, which is about $57,000 for a family of four.

State officials have said that the program is cost-saving and benefits students.

"Parents deserve choices, especially parents in struggling schools who don't have the money to consider another option," said John White, State Superintendent of Education. "In what is arguably the most important decision in a child's life, more parents now have the ability to decide where their child goes to school."

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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