Friday, June 09, 2006

Getting the Job Done

The archdiocese of Denver raises $3 million for a private school-voucher program -- an attempted public one was ruled unconstitutional.

Chaput said giving charitable funds in the form of vouchers is not a political statement. The church intended to give parents the financial power to choose where to send their kids and how to nurture their spirituality, he said.

The funds can be used in only 33 of the archdiocese's elementary and high schools. A total of 2,500 seats are still available in those schools, church officials said.

Richard Thompson, superintendent of Catholic schools for the archdiocese, said the private vouchers could be seen as an experiment.

"It's a way to sort of test that premise - how would it have done if they (the government) made those funds available?" Thompson said.

Applicant families will be awarded the vouchers based on need.

The vouchers, worth either $3,000 or $1,500, would not cover the full cost of tuition. Denver's Catholic high schools cost an average of $7,500 a year. Tuition for the church's grade schools average about $3,300.

Up to 250 vouchers are available.

It's "playing smart," defined.