School leaders concerned about future of state voucher program

Hosanna Christian Academy
Hosanna Christian Academy
Hosanna Christian Academy
Hosanna Christian Academy

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Roughly 8,000 students have been approved for state vouchers for next school year. But there are questions regarding how it will be funded now that the Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled it is unconstitutional for public dollars to fund private or religious schools.

The desks at Hosanna Christian Academy are filled with students who are eager to learn. You wouldn't know it by just walking down the halls but school Principal Josh Lesage said nearly half of the 600 students enrolled there are part of the state scholarship program.

Parent, Ashley Pugh's son is one of them. While he has only been a part of the Hosanna family for one school year, Pugh said she has already seen a significant improvement in his performance.

"They tend to compete now about things like being on the honor roll. The A/B Honor Roll is not enough for them. They want to be on straight A Honor Roll, even in the first grade," Pugh said.

Word Tuesday morning of the ruling from the Louisiana Supreme Court has some concerned the decision could impact the program next school year.

Lesage said Hosanna has already mailed 400 letters welcoming new students.

"The crummy thing about this is the timing, Cheryl, is that students have until the tenth to turn in their intent to come here based on the lottery that just happened. This may very well be a deterrent for new and existing scholarship parents," Lesage said.

As for the financial backing for the program through this school year and the next, Lesage said he is confident Governor Bobby Jindal has a plan.

"This is important, politically, to our governor so for that reason, and because I believe he believes in this program he'll do his best to find a way to make it work," Lesage said.

Pugh said she is counting on it.

"I know there will be a way for them to stay here because this is the right place for them to be," Pugh said.

Lesage said as soon as he heard about the court ruling he began calling lobbyists and law makers at the Capitol encouraging them to move forward with a plan.

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