Tuesday, April 27, 1999

500 pick up school vouchers

Foundation awards $2M in four-year local scholarships

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati Councilman Phil Heimlich talks to some of the area families that received scholarships for their children.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        Dominique Allen is a little scared about transferring to a private school from Cincinnati Public Schools' Bramble Academy. A 9-year-old with style, she's not looking forward to wearing a school uniform.

        Dominique and her parents, Vernetta and Darnell Allen, both 30, discussed these issues Monday outside the Marva Collins Preparatory School in Roselawn. The young family came to the school, as did about 800 children and family members, to celebrate winning private school scholarships from the Children's Scholarship Fund of Greater Cincinnati.

        About 500 children selected for the scholarships will receive vouchers averaging $1,000 for tuition at the private school of their choice beginning this fall.

        The Children's Scholarship Fund will fund four years of private school education for the children — a total of about $2 million.

        Using a lottery system, the scholarship winners' families were selected from a pool of 12,000 low-income applicants from six Tristate counties.

        “This is a true blessing, a true, true blessing,” said Mrs. Allen, of Madisonville, as she reassured Dominique that she would fit in at a private school just fine.

        Mrs. Allen and her husband were determined to get Dominique and her 5-year-old brother, Dylan, into private schools. The Allens can choose from any area private school that accepts them.

        Concerns about public school crowding and school violence prompted the customer service supervisor at Provident Bank and her hus band to seek alternative financing for private school tuition for the two children.

        Council member Phil Heimlich and his scholarship fund co-chairman, Durk Rorie, a Blue Ash businessman, raised $1 million for the Tristate fund, which was matched by the national private fund-raising venture, the Children's Scholarship Fund (CSF).

Sametra and David Moore Jr. of North Avendale received scholarships for their children David III and Denisha. A lottery system was used to select winners.
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        CSF is working with groups like the Cincinnati fund to pass out $200 million of vouchers nationwide.

        “The way to fix education for public schools and private schools is through competition, and competition comes through choice,” said Mr. Heimlich, an ardent proponent of tuition vouchers.

        Mrs. Allen is grateful her children will have the chance to attend private schools, although the family hasn't selected the schools yet.

        Even Dominique was warming up to the idea by the end of the ceremony Monday, uniforms and fitting in aside.

        “It's gonna be hard ... I guess it's like you say,” the spunky girl said to her mom and dad, “Be a leader, not a follower.”


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