BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The rush is on to apply for the State's new school voucher program. It is an opportunity for parents to place their children into a school that is not failing, but the spaces in the schools are limited.
In the State of Louisiana, more than 5,000 students can apply for the new taxpayer funded voucher's that pays for private and parochial schools. The Department of Education was swamped by phone calls starting at 7 o'clock Tuesday morning.
"We've answered several hundred phone calls," said Rene' Greer a spokesperson for the Department. "There's a lot of interest from families already. We have been working through the process even before the legislation was signed into law."
Teachers Unions are skeptical saying there is a chance that parents who would not normally apply for a voucher, would. "Parents who currently have their kids enrolled in private schools, if the private school they attend chooses to take vouchers, they could certainly take their child, enroll them at a qualifying school get a voucher and go right back to the school they came from," said Mary-Patricia Wray of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers.
Greer says they have already thought of those issues and vows it won't happen in Louisiana. The program applications process will last six weeks and the selection process is not time sensitive meaning you can sign up at any time without preference to who is first.
There are some qualifications that need to be met to be eligible for a voucher. To be eligible, a child must have been enrolled in a public school during the 2011-2012 school year that was labeled C, D or F, unless a student is entering kindergarten for the first time in the 2012-2013 school year.
Students must also be a resident of Louisiana and meet income eligibility requirements (family income in 2011 cannot exceed 250% of the federal poverty guidelines), which means a family of four cannot make more than $55,000 per year. Continuing students who were awarded a scholarship in the previous year are also eligible.
To fill out the application, click here to print it out.
Applications will be accessible online and on-site at any participating school. Students will submit completed applications no later than Friday, June 29th. After the application process is completed and eligibility is determined, the Department will identify scholarship recipients through a prioritized lottery process in July. All applicants will be notified of the results of the lottery, no later than July 31.
For more information about the scholarship program, please contact Studentscholarships@la.gov or call the Louisiana Department of Education's Help Center at 1-877-453-2721.
Tonight on 9News at 5 and 6, hear
Below is a list of schools and how many slots are available per grade at the school.
(Note: Schools on this list are just in the Greater Baton Rouge area. To see a full list, go to http://www.louisianaschools.net/topics/scholarships_availability.html. To see the schools by map, go to http://www.louisianaschools.net/resources/community/scholarships_map.aspx.)