Education voucher program works its way through Pennsylvania Senate

Devon Preparatory School, one of more than 1,800 private schools in Pennsylvania serving nearly 260,000 students, is a private, Catholic college prep school serving grades 6-12, focused on holistic education of young men.

Editor’s note: This article appeared Thursday on

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has moved another step closer to creating a scholarship program for students in underperforming schools to transfer elsewhere.

House Bill 2169, which narrowly passed in the House in April, would grant a $6,800 Lifeline Scholarship to students in the bottom 15% of the lowest-performing schools and allow them to use the money on tuition, tutoring, and other educational expenses.

This week, the Senate has considered the bill twice and was referred again to the Appropriations Committee to await its third consideration.

Funding for the scholarships would come from already-existing education funds; about one-third of the money would attach to the student enrolling in a different school, and two-thirds would stay with the school district from which the student leaves.

“The Pennsylvania Senate now has the opportunity to take the next step and ensure every child has access to an excellent education,” said Nathan Benefield, senior vice president of the Commonwealth Foundation, which supports educational voucher programs. “No student should be trapped in a failing school just because of their ZIP code. Lifeline Scholarships provide education opportunities to the families that need it most.”

In a Senate Education Committee hearing on the bill, the committee approved an amendment from Sen. Michele Brooks, R-Greenville, that would require the auditor general to audit every lifeline account once every two years.

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BY Special to NextSteps