Applications for vouchers for Louisiana children in C, D and F public schools who want to get into A and B schools—private or public—will start being accepted on May 22.
The voucher expansion program, a key component of Gov. Jindal’s education reform, was signed by the governor last week and applications for the 2012-2013 will be accepted until the cut-off date, June 29.
Here is how it works:
To qualify for the voucher program, or Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program (SSEEP), a student must attend a Louisiana public school with a grade of C, D and F as ranked by the state’s new assessment standard and must be in a family that meets income guidelines.
Family income cannot exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty level:
A family of four in Louisiana, for instance, can make up to $57,625 a year and still be eligible for a school voucher. A single mother with one child can make up to $37,825. If she has two kids, she can earn as much as $47,725.
Under this formula, about 380,000 school kids are eligible for vouchers. The problem is that spaces are limited, with just a few thousands slots available in Louisiana private, parochial and state-approved public schools that can receive vouchered students from another district.
Critics of the governor’s voucher expansion are quick to point out that only a small percentage of students will be getting vouchers. Proponents of the plan counter by saying that expanding school vouchers—before only offered to students in the New Orleans Recovery District—is a step in the right direction and more slots will open up in time.
Vouchers will be given out in a lottery system, with kids in the worst schools given first priority. Applicants will be able to name participating schools in order of preference and slots will be awarded based on what’s available. Schools must submit to the state how many extra students they can accommodate and cannot refuse students with-in that number.
Applications will be available online at www.louisianaschools.net and can also be gotten at participating schools. LDOE is building a list of participating schools on the website.
The lottery will be held over the month of July and applicants will be notified of the results of the lottery no later than July 31.
Those who still have questions can call LDOE’s Help Center at 1-877-453-2721.