Public and Nonpublic School Leaders Encouraged to Open Doors to Students Trapped in Low-Achieving Schools

Aug 03, 2012, 14:28 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Education

HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- All of Pennsylvania's high-quality public and nonpublic schools are invited to sign up to be a receiving school as part of the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program.

Signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett last month, the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program provides the means for low- and moderate-income students, who reside in the attendance boundary of a low-achieving school, to apply for an opportunity scholarship to attend a participating receiving school.

"The Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program is an example of a public/private partnership where the business community recognizes a need in our communities and schools and steps up to meet that need," Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis said today.

"It is my hope that Pennsylvania's high-quality schools will now step up to do their part to ensure that every student is provided with a world-class education," Tomalis added.

Interested schools that are not currently on the list of low-achieving schools announced by the department last week can sign up via the department's website to begin accepting students who receive an opportunity scholarship for the 2012-13 school year.

Students who reside within the attendance boundaries of one of the 414 schools on the low-achieving list are eligible to apply for a scholarship if their household's annual income does not exceed $60,000, plus $12,000 for each dependent member of the household.

Recipients of a scholarship may apply the funds to the tuition costs and school-related fees at another public school outside of their resident district or a nonpublic school that has signed up to receive students. Funds may not be used to attend a career and technology center, or brick-and-mortar and cyber charter schools.

The schools that are approved to receive students with an opportunity scholarship must charge scholarship students no more than their set tuition rate for enrollment. In the event that a participating school receives an influx of scholarship students requesting to enroll that would exceed their capacity limitations, the school must initiate a lottery in order to determine enrollment.

Schools that are interested in participating in the program must sign up on department's website by Aug. 15, 2012. A list of all public and nonpublic schools that will accept scholarship students for the 2012-13 school year will be posted on the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development's (DCED) website after August 15.

"This historic program cannot succeed without the participation of Pennsylvania's best public and nonpublic schools that are willing to open their doors to the students trapped in educational entities which are not meeting their academic needs," Tomalis said.

"Pennsylvania is home to many extraordinary public and nonpublic schools. Thanks to the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program and the generosity of the business community, eligible students in low-achieving schools can now experience the very best educational opportunities the commonwealth has to offer," Tomalis said.

Pennsylvania businesses that donate to opportunity scholarship organizations are eligible for a tax credit through the program. DCED 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.

To view the list of low-achieving schools or to apply to become a receiving school, visit the Department of Education's website at and click on the "Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program" icon.

For more information about the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program, visit DCED's website at

Media Contact: Tim Eller, 717-783-9802

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Education