Private schools decide on voucher program participation - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Private schools decide on voucher program participation

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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

May 18th is the deadline for schools across Louisiana to let the state know if they will participate in the Student Scholarship for Educational Excellence program, more commonly known as school vouchers.

Students in grades K-3 at St. Joseph's Catholic School in Shreveport could have a few new classmates next year. It's one of the Louisiana private schools that has signed up to take in kids from failing public schools.

"The mission of St. Joseph's school is we are a Christian school, and we want to educate as many children as we possibly can," said Principal Susan Belanger.

Some parishioners who go to the church attached to the school have already asked about the new program. To qualify, families must meet certain income guidelines and attend a public school rated C,D, or F.

The school hopes those families at their church will get the vouchers, but the school also understands with the state program they can't pick and choose.  Belanger says that doesn't bother her at all.

"We will not be able to, as we normally do, meet and interview families ahead of time. However, we've been assured that once they have been accepted and come to our school they will have to meet and maintain the same standards that we have in existence already for academics and for discipline or behavior," she said.

Other area private schools, like Calvary Baptist Academy have decided not to participate in the program because they say there are too many unanswered questions.

Parents at St. Josephs say they too have a lot of questions, but they are willing to get on board and give it a chance.

"I'm not sure how I feel about this yet. I know we all have a lot to learn about it. I think it's a great opportunity for the kids who get to come, and I think as long as they make the best of that education that it will be a win for everybody."

Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport also told KSLA News 12 they will participate in the voucher program.

Southfield School, Calvary Baptist Academy, Montessori School of Shreveport, First Baptist Church School, St. John's Catholic School and St. Mark's Episcopal private schools all said they would not take part.

The program isn't just for private schools. Public schools with a rating of A or B can choose to participate, too.  In the public school system, Claiborne, Red River, Webster, DeSoto, Bossier, and Sabine all said they will not participate. Some of those districts listed are not eligible to participate because they do not have any A or B ranked schools.

Other schools in the area have not gotten back to us, but we hope to get a complete and official list from the state next week.

Copyright 2012 KSLA. All rights reserved.

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