Bringing The World Home To You

© 2023 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount 91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton 94.1 Lumberton 99.9 Southern Pines 89.9 Chadbourn
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WUNC's education coverage is led by reporters Dave Dewitt and Reema Khrais. Dewitt has been with the station since 2003. Khrais is focused on Education Policy Reporting. Browse recent stories here.

State Sees Growth In School Voucher Applications

Student, Classroom, school, class
Tom Woodward
Flickr Creative Commons

More than 5,600 new students have applied to receive Opportunity Scholarships, or school vouchers, for next school-year. That's up from about 3,400 the same time last year.

The state began offering the $4,200 vouchers in 2014 to low-income students who want to switch from public to private schools. Kathryn Marker runs the program at the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA).She notes the increase comes after the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld vouchers against opponents who objected to giving public dollars to private and religious schools.

"There was a lot of uncertainty," Marker said, referring to last year.

Since the start of the program, the amount of scholarship funding actually accepted by students has fallen far short of the amount lawmakers set aside. In 2014-2015, students accepted about half of the $10.8 million allocated. In 2015-2016, lawmakers increased voucher funding to $17.6 million. Students accepted just $5 million.

The voucher fund will grow to $24.8 million next school year, enough for around 6,000 students.

Marker says the court battle may have been holding down the program's growth in past years.

"There was controversy, and some of that's been settled, and perhaps families are feeling more confident that the program is stable and is going to be here for a while."

Marker says families and schools are also more aware of the program now that it's a few years old, and thanks to advertising by the non-profit Parents for Educational Freedom.

"They (families) understand better how it works, and the schools themselves are better able to understand it and explain it to the families," she said.

Greensboro Islamic Academy and Trinity Christian School in Fayetteville were the top two earners for school voucher dollars last school year--each with around 80 voucher recipients.

Jess is WUNC's Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting. Her reporting focuses on how decisions made at the North Carolina General Assembly affect the state's students, families, teachers and communities.
Related Stories
More Stories