BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — More schools are seeking to participate in Louisiana's voucher program next year, according to a list released Wednesday, in a sign that the number of students using taxpayer dollars to go to private schools likely will grow.
The Department of Education said 133 private schools have been approved to receive voucher students in the 2013-14 school year, up from 117 schools this year. A high-performing St. Landry Parish public school also will continue to take students seeking to leave lower-performing schools through the voucher program.
The student application was released Wednesday, available online and at participating schools, with a March 15 deadline.
Superintendent of Education John White is moving ahead with a new year of the Louisiana Scholarship Program, even as questions remain about how the voucher slots will be funded.
A Baton Rouge judge declared voucher financing through the public school funding formula to be unconstitutional. If the Louisiana Supreme Court upholds the ruling, lawmakers would have to pay for the program another way to continue the vouchers.
The education department estimated vouchers will cost the state about $25 million this school year, with more than 4,900 students enrolled.
The taxpayer-financed tuition at private and parochial schools is available to students from low- to moderate-income families who otherwise would attend public schools graded with a C, D or F by the state. Priority is given to students in D- and F-rated schools.
If more students apply than slots are available, the seats are awarded through a lottery process. Applicants will find out if they've received a voucher by mid-April.
White said the education department will decide how many vouchers will be available to each approved school by March 15. Schools that weren't accredited received site visits before they were approved to participate in the program, he said.
Only one school has been deemed ineligible to accept state-funded voucher students next year: BeauVer Christian Academy in DeRidder, a small religious school also rejected last year because of concerns that the campus wasn't equipped to handle the students.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.