Schools participating in voucher program waiting on final payment

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Nearly 50 schools participating in the Louisiana Scholarship program are waiting on a final payment. The fourth quarter deposit was supposed to be made a month ago. The delay has put some teachers in a bad way.

The face of Hosanna Christian Academy, like other schools participating in the state scholarship program, changed last school year. Nearly half of the almost 600 students enrolled were part of the voucher program.

History teacher Keisha Pooler said it made her job even more rewarding. "I enjoy the fact of giving information, giving them a test and knowing, okay they got it and that's very rewarding for me," Pooler said.

The program was off to a great start, but a six to one ruling in May by the Louisiana Supreme Court, which made state funding to private and religious schools unconstitutional, had some concerned it could impact a final payment due to participating schools.

Hosanna School principal, Josh Lesage, said he is still waiting on $350,000 from the state.

"We are squeaking by for right now and so our teachers are certainly ready for us to get paid so we can continue with our operation," Lesage said.

Lesage said he has to tell his teachers and staff their paychecks would be late. For Pooler and others across the state in the same situation, the timing could not have been worse.

"We need supplies. We need things we need for our classrooms. So it kind of put us on hold as far as preparations," Pooler said.

"If this had happened on one of the other payments it would have been okay. We could have carried it the next two or three months. But when we're not collecting tuition and it's been four months since our last payment it's been pretty tough," Lesage said.

Lesage said his staff has understood. While they could have walked off the job, he said his teachers are staying put.

"To me it's more than just a paycheck. It's more than just having a job. God is my source and he's going to take care of me regardless of where I'm at," Pooler said.

Pooler and her colleagues admit they would be in a much better place if the state would pay what it owes.

Spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Education, Barry Landry, says the fourth quarter payment was made on Thursday evening to all schools in the scholarship program. He said most schools will have access to the funds on Monday.

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