Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Businesses Get OK to Offer Scholarships Money Would Help Students Transfer from Low-Performing Schools

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Businesses Get OK to Offer Scholarships Money Would Help Students Transfer from Low-Performing Schools

Article excerpt

The state Department of Community and Economic Development has approved a list of 10 organizations that can start accepting applications from parents of students residing in the lowest- performing 15 percent of school districts for scholarships to attend other public or private schools.

The scholarships, up to $8,500 for annual tuition for regular education students and up to $15,000 for special education students, will come through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program, which was expanded by $50 million in July. The program offers credits to businesses that donate to scholarship programs for needy students.

Late last week, the DCED named the first three scholarship organizations and Monday that list expanded to 10. The only organization in southwestern Pennsylvania so far is the Scholastic Opportunity Scholarship Fund operated by the Diocese of Pittsburgh. A full list of the scholarship organizations can be found on the DCED website, newPA.com/ostc. The list may expand if more organizations apply, said Steven Kratz, a DCED spokesman.

"The process is that the actual scholarships are awarded through these approved opportunity scholarship organizations," Mr. Kratz said. "Parents can begin inquiring with these organizations. Parents interested in the scholarships should not delay in getting the process started."

Each scholarship organization will solicit donations from business in its region. Those donations, which serve as tax credits for the businesses, will be used to fund the scholarships.

Last week the state Education Department asked schools not on the lowest-performing 15 percent list to apply to the department to be on the list of schools that will accept students with opportunity scholarships. Tim Eller, Education Department spokesman, said a list of eligible schools will be posted at some point after the Aug. …

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