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Enrollment in Louisiana's voucher program again on the rise, slated to grow by 30 percent

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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — More than 8,800 students have been awarded vouchers to attend Louisiana private schools with taxpayer dollars in the upcoming school year, a 30 percent growth in the program championed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Louisiana's voucher program, approaching its third year, has continued to grow since it was expanded from a New Orleans pilot to a statewide program in 2012. Last year, 6,775 students received vouchers.

Jindal's office announced the latest figures Wednesday, saying more than 8,800 students across 30 parishes were matched with schools out of 13,000 applications. Actual 2014-15 enrollment won't be known until September.

The number of schools in the voucher program also is growing from 126 schools last year to 132 for the 2014-15 school year, according to the Department of Education. Nearly all the schools are private, though one high-performing public school in St. Landry Parish also receives voucher students.

Vouchers — called scholarships by the Jindal administration — are available to low- and moderate-income students enrolled in public schools graded with a C, D or F in the state's accountability system or entering kindergarten for the first time.

Available voucher slots are limited by the schools willing to participate, so if there are more student applications for an individual school than slots available, the vouchers are awarded through a lottery.

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