HARRISBURG – As required by law, the Department of Education has published the list of low-achieving schools in which students, who live within the schools’ boundaries, may be eligible to apply for a scholarship through the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program.
Last year, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program to provide low- and moderate-income students in low-achieving schools the opportunity to obtain a scholarship to attend a participating public or nonpublic school.
As required by the law, the list of schools contains the lowest-achieving 15 percent of elementary schools and the lowest-achieving 15 percent of secondary schools, based on combined math and reading scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment from the 2011-12 school year.
Career and technology centers as well as charter schools are not included on the list.
The list includes 406 school buildings in 71 school districts across Pennsylvania – potentially benefiting more than 240,000 students.
For the 2013-14 school year, students who live within the attendance boundaries of one of these schools may be eligible for a scholarship if their household’s annual income is no greater than $75,000, plus $12,000 for each dependent member of the household.
The maximum scholarship award available to non-special education students is $8,500 and the maximum for a special education student is $15,000.
Pennsylvania businesses that donate to opportunity scholarship organizations are eligible for a tax credit through the program. The Department of Community and Economic Development administers the tax credit program and must approve opportunity scholarship organizations based on their ability to enhance the educational opportunities for students in low-achieving schools.
The Department of Education is required by law to notify school districts that have schools identified as low-achieving no later than Feb. 1 of each year.
Within 15 days of notification by the department, school districts are required to notify parents and post on their website a description of the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program as well as instructions on how families may apply.
For more information about the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program, visit the Department of Community and Economic Development’s website at www.newpa.com/ostc.
To view the list of low-achieving schools, visit the Department of Education’s website at www.education.state.pa.us and click on the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program icon.
Editor’s Note: Low-achieving schools are located in the following counties:
Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Cambria, Carbon, Chester, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer, Mifflin, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Somerset, Venango, Westmoreland, and York.