The following information was written by Joyce Bibey for The Catholic Spirit:
As 2021 ends, the Department of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is planning for the 2022-23 school year and West Virginia HOPE Scholarship program awareness is part of the planning.
Students entering kindergarten in the 2022-23 year, and first-though 11th-grade students currently enrolled in public school, are eligible to apply for the West Virginia HOPE Scholarship run by the West Virginia Treasurer’s Office and use it toward tuition and fees for any of the 24 Catholic schools in the state. This scholarship is not run, managed or determined by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston or the Department of Catholic Schools in the diocese.
The program, formerly HB 2013, was passed by the WV Legislature in 2021, and will begin in the fall of 2022. According to the state treasurer’s office, under the current school aid formula, each eligible student would receive $4,600 annually to use toward private school, alternative instruction programs or homeschool.
The state stipulates that money in the HOPE Scholarship education savings account will be administered through a third party. The treasurer’s office reports that each family awarded would have access to an account for each eligible student in their household. All purchases would be approved in advance by the state. The funds awarded can only be spent on education expenses such as tuition and fees, extracurriculars, tutoring, materials, supplies, textbooks, transportation, etc.
Mary Ann Deschaine, Ed.S., superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, said the Catholic schools welcome HOPE Scholarship recipients to apply for a Catholic education in West Virginia. She has been in talks with state Treasurer Riley Moore since June about the opportunity for students new to Catholic school. Moore noted that the amount a family receives based on the state aid formula will vary from year to year based on the W.Va. School Aid Formula, which is different from the cost per pupil that K-12 schools spend in West Virginia.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, West Virginia public schools’ cost per pupil is $11,757 (last updated Aug. 1, 2021). Students currently enrolled in Catholic schools, private schools and homeschoolers may become eligible in July 2026, according to the FAQs listed on the state treasurer’s office HOPE Scholarship page.
For Scholarship details, go to hopescholarshipwv.com.
Catholic schools have a lot to offer families, Deschaine said.
“God is in our schools,” she said. “Everything we do, choices we make and plans we develop are prayerfully made with the best intentions of our students’ success. While our students outperform their peers academically, the social, emotional, physical, spiritual and mental well-being of each child is just as important to academic achievement. We lead with faith.”
For information about the Catholic Schools of West Virginia, go to wvcatholicschools.org.