In the quickly approaching school year, about 100 students statewide will receive scholarships under the state’s new education tax credit law. But the majority of those scholarships will go to home-schoolers or students already attending private schools rather than to public school students seeking alternative options.
Only about 15 of the 100 students receiving scholarships from the Network for Educational Opportunity, the main scholarship organization, will be moving from public to private schools. Of the other 85 scholarships, about 50 will go to students who are already home-schooled and plan to stay there, and the rest will go to children already attending private schools. The total amount of scholarship money is not final because the group is still waiting to hear back from some families, but the scholarships must average $2,500, said the network’s Executive Director Kate Baker.
In total, those 100 students make up just one tenth of the 1,000 families who applied for scholarships. The number of eligible students fell dramatically when a superior court judge ruled earlier this summer that the money couldn’t go to religious schools. All of this could change for the following school year depending on the result of appeals filed in state Supreme Court, with the defendants seeking to allow religious schools to participate and the plaintiffs hoping for a complete repeal of the law.
Under the law, if businesses donate to a scholarship organization, they will receive up to 85 percent back in tax credits. The law allows for up to $4 million in donations, but so far, only about $250,000 has been raised. At least 70 percent of the money awarded must go to public school children using it to transfer to private schools. Home-schooled students can only receive a maximum of $625, which pulls down the average for the higher public to private transfer scholarships.