This is pretty significant. In many voucher programs there may be separate funding or appropriations for the program from the state, but in Louisiana the state board just voted to allow the state funding formula to follow the child to a private school. This means that the program could actually save money if private tuition is less than the public school cost and that schools will feel real competition as the money is attached to the backs of children. Since Louisiana has a robust charter sector and is working to allow student-based budgeting where the money follows the child to public schools, Louisiana is on the road to becoming a state model for education funding, where the money would be attached to children and the state would allow the parent to select between any public, private, or nonprofit school.
As reported in the Times Picayune:
Louisiana's new superintendent of education, John White, took a first step Monday toward opening the spigot of state and local tax dollars to expand the use of private school vouchers statewide. Gov. Bobby Jindal is pushing to expand a small pilot voucher program that's already up and running in New Orleans, hoping to offer aid to pay private or parochial tuition for low-income families across the state.
But the governor's office hadn't spelled out exactly how the state will pay for it. Money for the pilot program, running about $9.5 million this year, was approved as a special appropriation in the state Legislature.
But that may change beginning next school year. White, who took over at the state Department of Education last month with Jindal's backing, got approval from the state school board Monday to start paying for the vouchers in New Orleans by drawing from the same pool of money set aside for public schools.And that means if Jindal's proposal to expand the voucher program gains traction at the legislative session this spring, funding for it will already be in place.