Jindal-backed voucher program grows by 3,000

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Nearly 8,000 students have been approved for state-funded tuition to private schools of their choice under

the statewide voucher program that is going into its second year.

That's about 3,000 more than last year, and the state said more are expected to be approved in June after a second round of

applications.

"Roughly 12,000 families across the state expressed interest in participating in the Louisiana Scholarship Program this spring,

up from approximately 10,000 families in 2012," the Governor's Office said in a news release.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and Education Superintendent John White announced the figures Wednesday.

The taxpayer-financed tuition at private and parochial schools is available to students from low- to moderate-income families

who otherwise would attend poorly performing public schools.

Jindal pushed the voucher program through in the early days of the 2012 legislative session. Opponents said they worried it

would divert needed money from public schools.

A state court has since ruled that the

voucher program is unconstitutionally funded through a formula meant for

public schools.

That ruling is on appeal at the state Supreme Court. It remains

unclear how the program will be funded if the ruling is upheld.