HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) 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.
Earlier this month, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program to give low- and moderate-income students in low-achieving schools the option to obtain a scholarship to attend a participating public or non-public school.
The list of schools contains the lowest-achieving 15 percent of elementary schools and lowest-achieving 15 percent of secondary schools, based on combined math and reading Pennsylvania System of School Assessment scores from the 2010-11 school year.
Career and technology centers, as well as brick-and-mortar and cyber charter schools, are not on the list, since parents already have the choice to send their children to these educational entities.
The list of low-achieving schools contains 414 school buildings in 74 school districts across Pennsylvania. The scholarship program has the potential to impact more than 242,000 students.
Students who live within the attendance boundaries of one of these schools are eligible if their household’s annual income is no greater than $60,000, plus $12,000 for each dependent member of the household.
For the 2012-13 school year, 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 Pennsylvania 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 by Aug. 1. In 2013 and each subsequent year, school notification will be made by Feb. 1.
Within 15 days of notification by the department, school districts are required to notify parents and post on its web site, 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 web site at www.newpa.com.
To view the list of low-achieving schools, visit the Department of Education’s web site at www.education.state.pa.us and click on the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program icon.
Editor’s Note: Eligible schools are located in the following counties: