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BIRMINGHAM, AL, March 25, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund (AOSF) has opened its 2014-2015 School Year Application Season. AOSF is a new scholarship organization formed to help implement Alabama's new law, the Alabama Accountability Act.
The AOSF gives K-12 scholarships to children currently enrolled in a public school deemed "failing" by the Alabama Department of Education. These scholarship funds can be used to offset costs associated with transferring to a non-failing public or private school. Scholarships are also available after September 15 for income eligible students who are not attending a "failing" school. Scholarships are awarded statewide and given on a first come first serve basis. The 2014-2015 School Year Application Season opened on March 4. Within the first two weeks 2,883 applications were received and 244 awards were given out.
"At AOSF we believe that every child is unique, and every child learns differently," said Lesley Searcy, Executive Director of AOSF. "Most will thrive in their assigned neighborhood school. However, there are some children who will need a different learning environment to reach his or her potential."
Sharon Lewis, Pre K-12 Principal at Oakwood Adventist Academy in Huntsville says, "I have always had difficulty with education having to be linked to ones address. We know that students who live in lower socioeconomic areas tend to have failing schools that go hand in hand with that area and that's just problematic."
Searcy says, "It's about giving children the tools to help them succeed. Sometimes that means another public school in a different neighborhood or sometimes that means attending private school. AOSF was created to empower low-income parents to choose what is best for their child."
Lewis says her school has accepted the influx of students with open arms. "For them (parents) to have the opportunity to have their children in a school where the same....doctrinal beliefs and same moral values taught at home are echoed and supported at the school...is just so important."
Tashinique Dismuke had to pull her three teenage boys out of Oakwood Adventist when faced with dwindling funds. She says she never gave up hope that she would find a way to get them back into the school. Her freshman son, Jaymal Sparkman says he wants to be a family physician when he grows up and for him, the size of his classes in the private school setting suits him best.
The scholarship program is very new and already more than 1,000 children have been awarded scholarships from the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund. Chaired by former Gov. Bob Riley, the program has raised $17.8 million and expects to serve between 3,500 and 5,000 lower income children with scholarships this year.
Dismuke says getting her boys back at Oakwood Academy was an answer to her prayers. "Our pastor let us know that there was a scholarship and ...the day to be there to sign up. I was the first one." Lewis says she has stories upon stories of families who are just learning about the scholarships and are contacting her. "I am encouraging parents everywhere to visit a school that...is participating. See if it's a fit for you and give it a shot. Why would you not want to take the opportunity to give your child just another tool, another chance to be in an environment that promotes growth."
If you would like to learn more about the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund, feel free to call or email Sonya DiCarlo, Director of Communications, AOSF. firstname.lastname@example.org, (205) 206-7806.
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