Education chief suggests reworked voucher funding

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana's education superintendent said Thursday that he has offered local school boards a new proposal

to pay for the state's voucher program, rather than wait for a state Supreme Court ruling on the current financing.

But the idea floated by Superintendent of Education John White appeared to get little traction.

The leader of the state school boards association — which is suing White and Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration over the voucher

program — rejected White's proposal as attempting to sidestep the constitutional dispute.

A state district judge has ruled that Jindal, the state education board and lawmakers unconstitutionally paid for the voucher

program through the public school funding formula. The Louisiana Supreme Court hears the case in March.

White insisted he's confident the Supreme Court will reverse the district judge's decision, but he said he's offered a reworking

of the voucher funding to school districts that would bypass the funding formula.

However, the plan still would use the dollars that flow through it.

Under White's proposal, the state would send

the money for a local school district's students, including voucher

students,

to the district in a lump sum. The district then would pay the

tuition to the private schools for anyone in the voucher program.

That method would mean all money from the public school financing formula would be paid to a local school district, White

said. If the state payment for a public school student is larger than the private school tuition, the local district would

keep the difference for spending on public schools.

"We're just looking at other ways to do it rather than wait for the court to make a decision," White said in a conference

call with reporters.

"It's a good deal financially to the school boards, and it would help ease the concerns of parents," he said. "I hope it is

something they would agree to. If not, we'll wait for the courts."

Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, said the idea isn't going anywhere. He said

school boards don't support anything that would divert dollars from public schools to private entities.

"We appreciate the opportunity to have

dialogue with Superintendent White and the Office of the Governor.

However, at this

time there is no rationale to discuss the 'concepts' of furthering

an already unconstitutional funding scheme," Richard said

in an e-mail.