Tax credit program helps open private school doors

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Not satisfied with your child's public school? It's getting easier to afford a private school education.

The push is on to persuade Georgia businesses and residents to direct part of their state taxes to nonprofit organizations that will fund private school scholarships.

Through the new Student Scholarship Tax Credit Program, created by state House Bill 1133 this past legislative session, as much as $50 million can be given to charitable groups approved to award the scholarships.

Unlike the state's special education voucher program, there are no restrictions on who can receive the scholarships.

It's up to each organization to set its rules and criteria.

So far, the Georgia Department of Education has approved two organizations to give out the scholarships, including Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program Inc. Three organizations are pending approval as they obtain nonprofit status.

"Really, it's a matter of educational justice," Georgia GOAL Director and founder Jim Kelly said.

Mr. Kelly said he supports public schools but that parents should be able to send their children where they want and shouldn't be limited by the amount of money they have.

He has already contacted 750 accounting firms, asking them to let their clients know about the tax credit program, in the hope of receiving enough money to begin awarding scholarships for the new school year.

He would like to give away 100 scholarships.

Though his program is based in Atlanta, the scholarship is open to any student in Georgia, Mr. Kelly said. His program funds scholarships for families with a maximum household income of $85,000.

The scholarships given out by Georgia GOAL will be as much as 85 percent of tuition or $10,000, whichever is less.

The state Department of Education is maintaining a list of approved scholarship providers and participating private schools. The lists can be found on its Web site, www.gadoe.org, under the tax credit link under "special programs."

The site should answer most of the questions parents have, spokesman Dana Tofig said. It contains an overview of the program and details about how to contribute.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

HOW TO JOIN IN

TO APPLY FOR A SCHOLARSHIP:

Contact the scholarship organization. The list of organizations and their contact information can be found at www.gadoe.org.

TO DONATE TO THE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM:

Download Form IT-QEE-TP1 from the Georgia Department of Revenue's Web site, www.dor.ga.gov. Contact Beverly Bennett with the department at (404) 417-2422 if you have more questions.

Sources: Georgia Department of Education; Georgia Department of Revenue

Comments (24) Add comment
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patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 08/04/08 - 06:11 am
0
0
This approach is totally

This approach is totally unnecessary. Make the vouchers available to each student and allow the concerned parent or guardian to decide if private or government school is best for their child. What's more important, the education of the child or the control of the voucher money? The competition offered by the voucher program would help government schools solve their "problems".

HYPOCRITES 08
7
Points
HYPOCRITES 08 08/04/08 - 07:06 am
0
0
Success, I have to agree with

Success, I have to agree with you on this one.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 08/04/08 - 07:33 am
0
0
success, public funds are

success, public funds are taxes taken from the population. It should go to the education of the children in the best manner. Right now it's not. Vouchers would give the parents some say so.

afadel
518
Points
afadel 08/04/08 - 07:53 am
0
0
The supposed justification

The supposed justification for this is that it will help poorer children receive a quality education in a private school rather than a failing public school. Can anyone confirm that the list of eligible schools in Columbia and Richmond counties serve poorer children? From the DoE website for Richmond County: Curtis Baptist, Episcopal Day, First Academy, Hertiage Academy, Hillcrest Baptist, Hope Christian, Immaculate Conception, New Life, Nikao, Southgate, St. Mary's on the Hill, Westminister, Alleluia, Aquinas High, Augusta SDA, C.H. Terrell. Columbia County: Academics Plus, Augusta Christian, Augusta Prep, Columbia County Christian, Evans Christian Academy, New Hope Christian School. Furthermore, the Georgia Department of Revenue does not seem to have established a maximum income level for eligibility, so in theory the children of wealthy parents could receive scholarships to private schools. The only Student Scholarship Organization with a web site, the Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program, to its credit, has set up a sliding scale based on income for its awards, thus limiting amounts granted to wealthier families.

pointstoponder
336
Points
pointstoponder 08/04/08 - 08:36 am
0
0
Success and fire, where did

Success and fire, where did the "public" funds originate?

afadel
518
Points
afadel 08/04/08 - 09:05 am
0
0
There is an element of public

There is an element of public support, pointstoponder. A knowledgeable person wrote to me about this: "Namely, it’s a tax credit program. This means that it is not an additional tax break. Basically, the taxpayer can decide to allocate a portion of his or her state taxes to go to the SSO rather than to the state. The amount of taxes, however, is still the same."

TrulyBlessed
0
Points
TrulyBlessed 08/04/08 - 09:21 am
0
0
Ultimately, the way this will

Ultimately, the way this will work is that parents will make a donation to a scholarship fund, and the fund will then give their child a "scholarship" for private school. The parents get a tax credit for the "donation". The problem is, the tax credit will NOT enable poor and middle class families with children in failing schools to send their kids to private school. It will only help rich families who can already afford to do so. The tax credit is $2500 per year for a married couple. That is nowhere near enough to pay the annual tuition at the private schools listed above, and poor and middle class families will not be able to make up the difference.

mojo
0
Points
mojo 08/04/08 - 10:28 am
0
0
pt's comments hit the nail on

pt's comments hit the nail on the head. Why not just issue vouchers and let parents make the call? As for this benefiting the "rich" read the article again and note the household income cap at $85k - so let's say dad makes $45K and mom makes $40k - when did this become "rich"? If teenager gets a job a Mickey D's they're over the income limit.

greenbychoice
0
Points
greenbychoice 08/04/08 - 10:35 am
0
0
I personally would like to

I personally would like to know what happened to the student's responsibility in all these so called failing schools? There was a time when the students actually had homework and studied for a test. If the students were disruptive, they were suspended.

As far as private schools go, the only reason their test scores are higher is because they are more selective in the students they accept.Another factor to consider is when you have to pay tuition for school, the parents may be a bit more involved in making sure the students are doing the required work.

mommie2
2
Points
mommie2 08/04/08 - 11:02 am
0
0
Then they wouldn't be private

Then they wouldn't be private schools anymore right? They would all be public.

afadel
518
Points
afadel 08/04/08 - 11:59 am
0
0
Mojo 10:28, read the article

Mojo 10:28, read the article closely. The income cap of $85K is imposed by the SSO Georgia GOAL, not the state of Georgia. Another SSO might not enforce any income cap. But this thing is real confusing, and I've already made a few mistakes understanding the legislation. someone knowledgeable of this wrote to me correcting me: "Namely, it’s a tax credit program. This means that it is not an additional tax break. Basically, the taxpayer can decide to allocate a portion of his or her state taxes to go to the SSO rather than to the state. The amount of taxes, however, is still the same." This differs from what I wrote at 9:05, which I'm now going to go ahead and correct.

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 08/04/08 - 12:52 pm
0
0
vouchers will only increase

vouchers will only increase the burden on us taxpayer. You really think by giving money to private schools is going to decrease the amount taxpayers pay into the puplic school system? All this will do will cause any decent teachers to leave the public school system and enter the private school system. Some one hit the nail on the head. If parents have to pay for their education then they will make sure they do the homework and attend. I'm tired of the religious organizations trying to get all the public money they can. Vouchers are just a back door way of getting it. Look at the situation now. Richmond county has been told by a study group to down size and close some schools. Instead they give the higher ups a bonus. I think there should be a sliding scale on taxes. The more kids you have the more taxes you pay. The problem with the way the system is set up. You can have a family with 10 kids getting gov assistance and tax right offs - not to mention a $4200 gov check this year - and not pay a single dime for their childrens education because they either rent or get goby subsidize housing.

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 08/04/08 - 12:59 pm
0
0
oops that would be government

oops that would be government not goby. This site is not iPhone friendly.

North Richmond County
0
Points
North Richmond County 08/04/08 - 02:42 pm
0
0
Augusta has a new forum at

Augusta has a new forum at city data. com Everybody please contribute. Come see all the people moving to the metro area who want info on augusta. And see all the projects going on in the area.

moderate321
324
Points
moderate321 08/04/08 - 02:42 pm
0
0
Keep in mind that people who

Keep in mind that people who pay rent are in effect paying property taxes. The landlord does pay the taxes, but usually this amount is factored into the amount that he/she charges for rent of the property. Thus, if you pay rent for the home or apartment that you live in, you are paying school taxes, maybe just not directly.

greenbychoice
0
Points
greenbychoice 08/04/08 - 03:12 pm
0
0
The landlord is paying

The landlord is paying property tax not the renter.

North Richmond County
0
Points
North Richmond County 08/04/08 - 04:25 pm
0
0
Augusta has a new forum at

Augusta has a new forum at city data. com Everybody please contribute. Come see all the people moving to the metro area who want info on augusta. And see all the projects going on in the area.

Rozzie2003
5
Points
Rozzie2003 08/04/08 - 08:58 pm
0
0
This is a bad program and

This is a bad program and will waste taxpayers money. We don't need to subsidize education for no one. We have public schools and those that need improving, let's work on them, Private schools are a class thing and those parents who want their children to attend one, shoiuld pay their way. Many studies show that if you match students, public schools student do better.This type of program has been tried in other states and has failed. The best private schools won't take poor students and what you will have ----persons operating fly by night private schools for profits. Many of the private schools don't want to grow larger because that is one of their main features----being small.
Also, the top private schools have waiting lists and it take years for some student to enter.Let mprove our public schools--this
is what made America great---public schools.

mojo
0
Points
mojo 08/04/08 - 10:37 pm
0
0
Why do folks miss the fact

Why do folks miss the fact that parents who send their children to private schools are paying twice...once for the public schools they don't utilize and a second time their children to attend a private school. The fact is these folks are giving the public schools an enormous boost in funding. Without private schools the public school systems would immedately fail due to fact that they're not equiped to educate our entire population. The element missing is competition...make public schools compete for students and funding and we'll see a rapid and impressive improvement.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 08/04/08 - 11:09 pm
0
0
Thanks for your simple and

Thanks for your simple and easy to understand comment mojo. I'm afraid it goes over the head of most of the posters and especially the non-taxpayers.

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 08/05/08 - 01:44 am
0
0
moderate, lots of people in

moderate, lots of people in this town are not paying rent per say, they are getting government money from our fed taxes to pay their rent. Then they are getting local taxes free of charge to send their kids to school. In a way It pays to be poor, you can get better services the if you worked full time at McDonalds. But at least the people working at micky D's have some pride.

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 08/05/08 - 01:56 am
0
0
then if you worked at

then if you worked at McDonalds. I hope someone at the paper can afford an iPhone so they can understand how unfriendy it is to edit a comment you have made. God forbid you make a spelling error. You won't be able to edit on your iPhone.

teacher02
3
Points
teacher02 08/08/08 - 07:43 pm
0
0
As someone educated in

As someone educated in private school and currently teaching in public school, I wanted to offer my opinion on the voucher issue. First, what is to stop the private school from raising tuition rates to offset the voucher? Second, private schools do not succeed because of exemplary teachers (many have never been certified), equipment (you won’t find “smart boards” in every classroom), or per student funding. Private schools excel because they are highly selective of who they allow in, have very small class sizes, and have parents who are actively involved in the learning process.

teacher02
3
Points
teacher02 08/08/08 - 07:45 pm
0
0
A voucher system undermines

A voucher system undermines each of those benefits, especially the last one. To illustrate, a 7th period credit recovery class has been offered for years (after school) for a fee for students who wanted to make up a failed class during the school year. Despite having previously failed, these students were typically easier to deal with because their parents were invested financially and the school had a zero tolerance policy for misbehavior. A couple of years ago, these classes were offered for free (along with refreshments and a gift card for successful completion of it). Waiting lists were created due to the large sign-up. Everyone wanted in now. The classes themselves were horrible. The 7th period teachers vowed never to teach the classes again unless the fee was reinstituted. Point being, when something is free, it loses a lot of its value.

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