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Federal Voucher Plan Falls Short on Takers

By Ann Bradley — September 22, 2004 1 min read
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In the first year of the federally financed voucher program in the District of Columbia, 1,019 students will attend 53 private schools using the tuition aid, officials announced last week.

Congress appropriated enough money earlier this year to allow 1,613 students in the nation’s capital to receive vouchers worth up to $7,500 each. (“D.C. Voucher Program Signs Up Families,” June 23, 2004.)

The Washington Scholarship Fund, the organization selected by the U.S. Department of Education to operate the program in conjunction with the office of Mayor Anthony A. Williams, this spring granted vouchers to 1,359 families, some of which ended up not using the vouchers.

Families that chose to forgo the aid moved, kept their children in the public school system, enrolled them in charter schools, or couldn’t find space in the right schools or at the right grade levels, the organization said in a news release. But officials hope that as the school year begins, another 212 families will complete their applications and find spots in schools that are participating in the program.

The fund is now accepting applications for vouchers for the 2005-06 school year and is working to notify families, including those of the 33,000 students whose schools were identified as needing improvement this past summer under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

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