Magazine article Momentum

State Tax Credits Allow Parents to Make Educational Choices

Magazine article Momentum

State Tax Credits Allow Parents to Make Educational Choices

Article excerpt

Pennsylvania Tax Credits-Five Years Later

The Diocese of Pittsburgh's Scholastic Opportunity Scholarship (SOS) Fund is close to $14 million richer over five and one-half years because of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program in Pennsylvania. Approximately 7,000 students a year in our diocese have received grants rangingfrom a low of $100 to a high of $2,000. This 2006-2007 school year, we were able to provide full tuition to every eligible family of pre-schoolers. Some of their tuitions were as high as $3,500.

You might ask how this tax credit funding has impacted our schools. At the high school level the effect on enrollments has been dramatic. In the year 2002-2003 there was a one-year 3.7 percent drop in the number of students attending our seven diocesan high schools. This 2006-2007 school year, there is a one-year 3.4 percent increase in enrollments. This translates into turning back the hands of time and reaching enrollment levels of four to five years back. This same trend occurred in the privately owned Catholic high schools in the diocese.

The elementary school enrollment trends are a little more complicated because of demographic changes in the Pittsburgh area, which are beyond anyone's control. However, some schools definitely would have closed if it were not for business tax credit contributions, and other schools have stabilized and grown due to this wonderful program. For example, St. Sylvester Elementary School in Brentwood had around 155 students for four years in a row and now has 210 students for the 2006-2007 school year. Although some students did come over when another school closed, it is the availability of tax credit tuition assistance that enabled parents to make this choice.

To give you some idea of the positive effects of tax credits, it is only necessary to point to the following sums solicited for individual schools:

St. Sylvester School....................... $ 40,666

Christ the Divine Teacher

Catholic Academy........................... $ 55,000

St. Valentine School....................... $ 31,650

St. Michael School.......................... $ 37,500

Our Lady of Fatima School............. $ 30,700

St. lrenaeus School........................ $ 50,000

Holy Trinity School.......................... $ 44,600

John F. Kennedy School................. $ 20,000

Central Catholic High School........ $167,000

North Catholic High School............$111,556

Oakland Catholic High School....... $100,000

Serra Catholic High School........... $107,000

Seton-LaSalle High School........... $170,000

St. Joseph High School.................. $ 85,000

In June 2006, the Pennsylvania State General Assembly increased the amount of tax credits available for businesses by $10 million. This is the third increase since 2001 bringing the total amount now set aside in the budget for educational scholarships to $36 million. There is also an additional $5 million for pre-school tuition assistance tax credits. In Pennsylvania the majority of pre-kindergarten programs are in Catholic schools.

Each year in Pennsylvania, more than 30,000 students receive grants from tax credits. The number of scholarship organizations has grown to around 140. Approximately 1,900 companies have given in excess of $100 million over the life of the program.

Many parents have written that they would not be able to send their children to Catholic schools if it were not for the SOS fund. …

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