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West Virginia Catholic schools will accept ESAs

WHEELING — Catholic schools across West Virginia plan to fully participate in the state’s upcoming Hope Scholarship program, which will create educational savings accounts for eligible families to move from public schools to homeschooling or private or parochial schools.

Gov. Jim Justice signed the scholarship program into law in March. Initially, families with children entering kindergarten or transferring out of public schools and into homeschooling or private schools can apply for ESAs for the 2022-23 school year.

“The Hope Scholarship Program can truly serve as a blessing for parents who seek a Catholic education for their children,” said Bishop Mark E. Brennan of Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. “This program empowers parents and families to make decisions about how best to educate their children and in so doing is in keeping with a key tenet of the Catholic faith: That parents are the primary educators of their children.”

Families who qualify for the scholarship can use those funds for private school tuition or for educational services, tutoring, home school costs, online instruction, or other allowable expenses.

Depending on the total number of families signing up for the scholarships, families with children already enrolled in Catholic schools may be eligible to apply in 2026. The state treasurer will establish a board to oversee and regulate the program, including participation in the program by qualified private schools and other education service providers.

“Catholic schools in West Virginia are caring, diverse, values-based institutions that have historically outperformed their peer systems in academic outcomes at a cost that is a fraction of what other systems spend,” said Mary Ann Deschaine, superintendent of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Wheeling Charleston. “Our small classroom settings, Gospel-based programs, talented and caring educators and investments in cutting edge technology combine with the legacy created by generations of religious brothers and sisters who helped our diocesan bishops make Catholic schools flourish in this diocese.”

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