VCA gears up for National School Choice Week

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Celebrating Jan. 26-Feb. 1

By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

Today perhaps more than ever, parents and guardians are examining more and more alternatives when it comes to the education of their children.

Vision Christian Academy, located off Hwy. 41 in Raleigh, three miles north of Williston, is but one of those choices area students have.

Its administrator, John Dulaney, wants to get the word out that the choices are there and funding options are available should parents decide to utilize the private school route.

The best way to spread the word, Dulaney believes, is to get a jump start on National School Choice Week (Jan. 26-Feb. 1), a week set aside and dedicated to the celebration of education reform.

VCA was started six years ago by Dulaney and the Rev. Carl Carnegie, pastor of Miracle Vision Tabernacle Outreach Center. With only three students then, the school has grown to 59 and encompasses kindergarten through ninth grade. 

“I wanted it to grow fast,” Dulaney said, “but God said no.”

A basic curriculum is taught but the school is deeply rooted in Christian standards and require that each family be of “like faith and practice,” but not necessarily be tied to any one particular church.  

The allure of VCA, Dulaney said, and most private schools is the smaller student to teacher ratio that allows more one-on-one time.

Additional tutoring is also available to students, he said, allowing students to grasp more and learn more.

The school offers no organized sports which allows its students to try out and play for public school teams.

Devotions are held each day at the school and a  primary mission is to share God’s word with others.

“It’s a family atmosphere,” said Dulaney, who retired in 2005 from the Levy County School School System. “Everyone knows everyone.”

VCA is now working toward accreditation and hopes to have all the i’s dotted and t’s  crossed for the 2014-2015 school year.

But right now the point is to get the message across loud and clear that scholarships are available and the season for application is here.

Three separate programs are open to students who want to attend private schools in the fall. Requirements vary for each program.

• The McKay Scholarship Program–open to students with disabilities. In 2013, 26,000 Florida students received McKay funding. For more information, visit floridaschoolchoice.org or call 1-800-447-1636.

• Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program–provides for state tax credit for contributions to nonprofit scholarship organizations who award scholarships to students whose families have limited financial resources.

For more information, visit floridaschoolchoice.org, call (866) 751-2543 or email info@stepupforstudents.org

• Step Up for Students– open to students with limited financial resources, including the homeless, foster children and children who qualify for free or reduced lunch. Since 2001, more than 330,000 scholarships have been awarded to low-income families. Not only does the program help with tuition for private schools, it also can provide up to $500 to assist with transportation for a student to attend a public school in another county.

For more information, visit StepUpForStudents.org/info, call 1-877-735-7837 or email infor@sufs.org.