The Citizen-Times of Asheville is reporting this week that North Carolina has spent about $12 million this academic year, out of a budgeted $17.6 million, on the state’s controversial private school voucher program.
The vouchers, provided by the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, offer $4,200 scholarships for low-income children to attend the state’s private schools, which are mostly religious schools.
From The Citizen-Times:
Statewide, officials received 8,675 new applications for the current school year. Of that number around 6,100 students were deemed eligible.
“I do think that the uncertainly around the court case had to have contributed to some families’ hesitation (to accept scholarships),” said Kathryn Marker, associate director for K-12 programs for the State Education Assistance Authority.
Conservative lawmakers in Raleigh have been ramping up support for the scholarship program in recent years, despite objections to the use of public money on private schools. Critics have also pointed out that private schools lack the same accountability standards as public schools.
Opponents have also noted that the program could be used to funnel public cash toward schools with arguably discriminatory admissions policies.
As Policy Watch reported in January, one such voucher-eligible school in Lee County was requiring students and parents sign a pledge that denounced homosexuality as “immoral and sinful.”