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The School Voucher Report - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

The School Voucher Report

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It is the report of all reports when it comes to the state's school voucher program. It is more than 500 pages long and details the expenditures of the 117 private schools enrolled in the voucher program.

"Anytime you are dealing with tax payer money, you have to make sure there is accountability in place and you have to make sure that those objectives are being met," said State Rep. Jeff Thompson. Thompson sits on the State Education Committee.

State auditors looked at a series of procedures at each school enrolled in the program.

Areas covered in the reporting included whether students met the income eligibility requirements..

From our area, there were four schools participating in the program.

The audit found relatively minor issues with the three schools in Shreveport.

St. Joseph, which received more than $44,000 from the state, had to make amends for $112 in year book fees for its seven voucher or scholarship students.

The state does not consider a yearbook as a tool needed to educate students.

Dreamkeepers Academy had three voucher students, receiving more than $9500 dollars from the state. The only problem auditors had there was a failure to reach the board secretary when the principal wasn't able to answer some of their questions.

The most voucher students, 75, went to evangel. The school received nearly half a million dollars from the state. Auditors noted that the school did not maintain a separate checking account exclusively for the scholarship program and expenditures.

More serious were the problems auditors found in Ruston at the New Living Word Church School.

The state paid the school more than $700,000  for 90-plus voucher students.

The audit found the school was charging the state more than they charged other students who didn't qualify for the program. That meant the state overpaid the school by more than $340,000.

According to Thompson, they are cut off and the state is pursuing the money.

It is unclear at this time exactly how the state will get its money back. The state's attorney general may have to get involved. According to the state superintendent, New Living Word's actions were against the law and schools cannot charge the state more than what they charge other students. Our calls to the principal  were not returned. But in a statement to the "News Star" in Monroe, Principal Jerry Baldwin calls the finding "ridiculous" and said that the church is being made a "scapegoat" by the state.

It is the only school that the state removed from the program. 

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