Governor Bobby Jindal and Department of Education Announce Scholarship Program Awards for Families Across Louisiana

BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and the Department of Education announced that the Louisiana Scholarship Program awarded more than 8,800 students with scholarships to attend a school of their choice for the 2014 - 2015 school year. The scholarships were awarded for student attendance at 133 participating schools in 30 parishes and 33 school districts across the state. The program received more than 13,000 applications from families across Louisiana who are seeking a better education for their children – up by 1,000 applications from last year.

Governor Jindal said, “We are proud to offer these scholarships to nearly 9,000 students across our state. These scholarships empower parents and allow them to select a school based upon their child’s individual educational needs so that they can grow up and pursue their dreams. We will continue working to improve education across our state and protect the Scholarship Program so that more students have an opportunity to get a great education.”

This year, 133 schools are accepting scholarship students. All schools listed on the application have undergone a rigorous review process involving independent accreditation, Department of Education surveys, and site visits.

Schools seeking to participate in the Scholarship Program began the process of being listed on the application last fall. Since then, the Department reviewed accreditation status and conducted site visits.

Eric Lewis from The Black Alliance For Educational Options said, “The continued increase in demand for the Louisiana Scholarship Program is a testament to the opportunities that parents across Louisiana continue to seek for their children.  Our children deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential and this program is one avenue that has been created by our legislature and our Governor.  We will continue to stand with parents to ensure that generations of children will continue to have similar opportunities.”

“I think the scholarship gave me a great opportunity. Without it, I probably wouldn’t be headed to a great university as salutatorian. I probably would have been looked over and lost in the crowd. I believe if I can stay focused and determined, I can be very successful,” said Ashlee White, 2014 salutatorian of Lutheran High School and Louisiana Scholarship Program student.

“My son got his progress report yesterday, and his reading level is on the sixth grade now. When he went into the program, he was only on a first-grade level, and he’s grown five grade levels in two years,” said Kirby Tremekia, whose son, Jai (6th grade), and daughter, Jakiera (4th grade), attend Redemptorist Elementary School in Baton Rouge

“She loves her school. She definitely does not want to leave. She’s comfortable with being there, and it’s where I want her to be.  It gives parents a chance to give their child the BEST—the best learning tools, the best environment, the best overall education,” said Lacey Williams, whose daughter, Harmony (2nd grade), attends St. John Lutheran School in New Orleans.

Louisiana lawmakers expanded the Scholarship Program statewide through the passing of Act 2 of the 2012 Regular Legislative Session.  While a similar program operated in New Orleans from 2008 to 2012, the 2014-2015 school year marks the third year of statewide implementation. Through the Louisiana Scholarship Program, students are able to opt to attend not only approved nonpublic schools but also high-performing public schools participating in the program.

To be eligible, a child must have been enrolled in a C, D, or F-rated public school during the 2013-2014 school year, unless a student is entering kindergarten for the first time. Students must also be residents of Louisiana and meet income eligibility requirements. The Louisiana Scholarship Program is available to all eligible students.

Demand for the program is high; last year, the Department received nearly 12,000 applications, and this year, the Department received 13,000 – more than 1,000 more families since 2013. The scholarship program has grown at a remarkable pace with nearly 9,000 students offered scholarship awards for this upcoming school year, growing from nearly 5,000 students who took advantage of the program just two years ago. Every year, the Department of Education works with participating schools to determine seat availability and attempt to match as many applicants as possible with the school of their choice. However, when the number of applicants exceeds available seats, the scholarships are awarded through a lottery process.

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