Private schools deciding whether to participate in voucher program

Private schools deciding whether to participate in voucher program

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Private schools across Louisiana have three weeks to apply to participate in the state's new Student Scholarship Program. Under the new law students from failing schools would have the opportunity to transfer to a private school. The Diocese of Lake Charles is letting the schools decide. So far two schools, ICCS and St. Margaret, said they will not apply to participate. Meanwhile administrators at the other schools said they're still looking at the details.

It's the same situation in the Diocese of Lafayette. According to Lafayette Diocesan Superintendent of Schools Anna Larriviere most of the 34 schools there are still undecided.

"I think it is something that is new. I think it is a quick turnaround but I think they are looking for a few more answers to their question," said Larriviere.

If a school decides to participate in the program they would let the Louisiana Department of Education know how many seats they would make available in each grade. The state would then assign students to schools by a lottery system and the state dollars would follow the student. Larriviere said that too has also been a concern.

"We know that in the past when we take grant money from the state - that religion cannot be a part of that at all... even though we've been assured if we take scholarship students they will take part in whatever paying students take part in," said Larriviere.

Like in Lafayette, most private schools in the Lake Area have a waiting list to enroll so an abundance of open seats could be a problem. While a similar program has had great success in Orleans Parish, Larriviere questions whether it will work across the board.

"If they are coming from a failing school and they are already behind - it's going to be a challenge to place them in our schools and hopefully bring them up to where they need to be," said Larriviere.

Schools have to decide whether to participate by Friday May 18th. Once they're approved by the Department of Education they'll be posted online for parents to start making application for their first and second choice.

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