Nation’s Capital Sees Huge Demand for School Vouchers
Demand for access to the nation’s first federally funded school voucher program has proved overwhelming in the nation’s capital, due in large part to parental frustration with its troubled public education system.
The Washington Scholarship Fund said early last month it had 2,650 applications from District of Columbia students seeking to leave the public schools. The number of applications is more than double the number of spaces available.
About 1,720 of the students are eligible under residence and income guidelines. Plans call for about 1,000 scholarships to be awarded by lottery to students who attended public schools this year, or will be entering kindergarten in the fall.
Congress is providing up to $7,500 per year to help low-income students attend one of 50 private or parochial schools in the city. A total of 1,264 slots are available for the upcoming school year.
“The legislative intent was to expand the number of children exercising school choice,” said Sally Sachar, president and chief executive officer of the Washington Scholarship Fund, which has a contract to administer the $14 million federally funded program.
Only 60 slots are for high school programs, falling 40 percent short of demand. A lottery was held last month to determine which eligible public school students receive aid.
— Associated Press
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