Friday, January 13, 2006

DC voucher program: successful but pricey

Washington Scholarship Fund officials who run the federally backed school voucher program in the District are claiming the initiative to be a success.
We now are serving 1,700 students, and we will be giving out about $12 million in scholarships to those students," said Sally Sacher, president of the nonprofit group administering the program for the D.C. government and the U.S. Department of Education.

Congress capped allowable administrative expenses at $375,000. The WSF has met its $1.6 million operating costs with grants from foundations.

When the five-year program began in the 2004-05 school year, 1,011 students were placed in 53 schools. Scholarship recipients now are enrolled at 58 schools, and the overall retention rate has been about 90 percent.

Miss Sacher encouraged applications for the coming school year, though the program will accept new recipients only in grades one through six because of a space shortage in secondary schools.
The officials admit, however, that the cost of administering the program has been more expensive than originally planned.

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