Local reaction to voucher ruling

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - On Tuesday, May 7, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled the funding for Governor Jindal's school voucher program as unconstitutional in a six to one vote.

The program was funded through the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP). This money is intended for the public school system, but was going to fund the tuition for qualified students to go to private schools.

Now the public school system is hoping for a reimbursement, while some hope the program continues in the future.

St. Theodore Holy Family Catholic School just one of the private schools in Calcasieu Parish that accepts the voucher, or scholarship, program.

"All of our children that we had this year want to come back," Principal Jennifer Bellon said.

That's 19 students in the scholarship program that are hoping to return in the fall to Holy Families; 19 former public school students.

Bellon said she is disappointed with the ruling of the voucher funding because she knows what the program is doing for the students who are taking advantage of it.

"I don't think they're going to stop the program. Too much work's been done. They've seen a lot of improvement, even the performance of the children as well as behavior," she said.

But for Calcasieu Parish Superintendent Wayne Savoy, he's experienced the challenges from misuse of the funding.

"There are a lot of ways that they've been using it in the past year that we felt like was very unfair and it puts a hardship on the parishes," Savoy said.

Because the amount of funding the parish school system has, impacts what they are allowed to do as far as providing the best public education they can.

"It's certainly going to have an impact on hopefully on reimbursement if the money was taken away from us," Savoy said.

Since the MFP money for the voucher program was ruled unconstitutional in the way it was being used, Savoy is hoping the Calcasieu School System will receive near an $88,000 reimbursement. Savoy said the state "should not be taking money away and from another source to do that."

"The state needs to be able to or should come up with a plan to do that," he said.

And the state wants the voucher program to work.

"So they'll just figure out another way to do what they need to do," Bellon said. "I think it's going to, I know it's still going to be here this year. I mean, these kids will come."

According to Savoy, now it's just a waiting game to see what happens next. He said the parish school board's attorney is looking through a brief on the case and hopes some good will come out of it for the public school system.

For more on the voucher ruling click here.

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