The waiting list for voucher students hoping to enter private schools has been trimmed from 362 students to 187, the state Department of Education announced Monday.
All of the schools that agreed to accept the new entries are in parishes that did not suffer major flooding after heavy rains in south Louisiana.
Most of the private schools that agreed to take the new students – they may collect less than $100 per student for the school year – are in Orleans and Jefferson parishes.
Vouchers are state aid for students from low-income families attending troubled public schools to attend private schools at state expense.
About 7,100 students got vouchers for the 2015-16 school year, but aid for the program this year dropped by about $2.5 million.
State Superintendent of Education John White announced on Aug. 12 that he was asking private schools to agree to accept the unfunded 362 students in hopes that the Legislature will provide the money next spring.
State Superintendent of Education John White said Friday he has a plan that would get all 36…
If not, the schools will collect less than $100 per student for the school year.
The average private school tuition is $5,575.
In a news release, the department said 80 percent of the waiting list for students in non-flood parishes was eliminated.
St. Francis Cabrini School in Rapides Parish, which includes Alexandria, led the list by accepting 21 students.
Next was Our Lady of Prompt Succor School in Jefferson Parish and St. Mary's Academy in Orleans Parish.
They took in 18 and 16 students respectively.
Students have two weeks to register and start attending classes.
They have to accept their award by Sept. 2.
Nearly one out of three students who thought they would get a voucher for the 2016-17 school…
State officials said 68 schools had the ability to accept new voucher students, with 23 of those located in parishes that flooded, including 142 students on the wait list.
"For obvious reasons, the department has not ascertained whether those schools will accept students from the wait list at this time," the agency said.
Students in parishes that were flooded who cannot attend their school can move to another school willing to accept them, even if doing so would exceed previous limits.
Families should either contact the school they wish to attend or the department at StudentScholarships@la.gov.
Whether the Legislature will provide additional dollars for voucher students is iffy.
White argues that if students on a waiting list end up in a public school the state will be forced to come up with the dollars, which average $5,250 per student.
However, state services were already plagued by budget problems and Louisiana's lengthy recovery from the disaster is sure to worsen the state's financial picture.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, a critic of vouchers, is said to be lukewarm to White's plan.
Backers contend that vouchers offer students a way out of low-performing schools.
Opponents say voucher schools have failed to deliver on promises of improved student achievement.