The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

August 22, 2013

Ala. superintendent says few transferring schools

— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's public schools aren't seeing an exodus of students taking advantage of private school tax credits, Alabama Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice told the state school board Thursday.

A preliminary survey by the Alabama Department of Education shows 51 students have used the new Alabama Accountability Act to transfer from a failing public school to a private school, Bice said.

He told AL.com (http://bit.ly/14Idz78 ) that not all school systems have responded to a department survey, but he doesn't expect the figure to increase much because the state's largest systems have responded.

Of the 51 transfers, 33 were in Montgomery County, he said.

One of the 78 public schools rated as failing is Samson Middle School in southeast Alabama. Geneva County Superintendent Becky Birdsong told the Dothan Eagle that two students transferred, but it's unclear if both are using the tax credits.

The Alabama Accountability Act provides state tax credits of about $3,500 to a family that moves a child from a failing public school to a participating private school. So far, 56 of Alabama's more than 500 private schools have signed up to participate in the voluntary transfer program.

The Accountability Act is being challenged in federal court by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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