Demand for vouchers exceeds availablity


POSTED: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 5:45pm

UPDATED: Saturday, June 30, 2012 - 2:45pm

The latest numbers from the department of education show 7,800 applications have been submitted for the 5,100 new spots being made available at schools participating in the state-wide voucher program.

Eric Lewis has been an advocate of the school choice program from the start, he said he's not at all surprised to see so many looking for alternatives.

"The demand has exceeded what's available out there as far as seats, And so again, to me it says that parents want something different," Lewis, state director of the Louisiana Black Alliance for Educational Opportunity, explained.

Lewis and his team with the LA BAEO have been meeting with parents across the state for weeks, helping them to navigate through the voucher application, and answer the hundreds of questions parents had about the process.

“We probably serviced about 4,000 parents over the six week sign up period. But there were parents even before, during the legislative session, that were interested in this,” Lewis said.

He feels ideally he would have liked to see even more spots open for students, but has faith that a successful first year will lead to more potential openings.

"It was kind of disappointing originally that we didn't have more seats available. but I think also what will happen is if we can get through this first year, both private schools and hopefully some of the high performing public schools, will really see that this program is effective and we'll get more schools on board," Lewis said.

There are still two lawsuits pending the legislation that's making the voucher program a reality, the court will decide on the constitutionality of the law in July at injunction hearings.

Parents waiting on a voucher decision should know if their child will receive one by July 31st.

According to the LA Department of Education there is just one public school participating in the voucher program, Parkvista Elementary in St. Landry Parish. There are 124 private schools accepting vouchers across the state. The decision by ‘A’ and ‘B’ public schools to not participate is a joint decision made by both the superintendent and the principal of the school.

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