Last updated: March 16. 2013 11:04PM - 473 Views
By - mguydish@timesleader.com - (570) 991-6112

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Eleven Luzerne County schools made the state's second annual list of low-achieving schools released Friday.

Being on the list means students living in the attendance zones of those schools and who meet income requirements are eligible for Opportunity Scholarships to attend any school that accepts those scholarships.

The opportunity scholarship program was launched last year by the state, when six local schools made the first low-achieving list. Those six schools are on this year's list as well:

• Hazleton Area High School and Hazleton Elementary/Middle School in Hazleton Area School District.

• Dodson Elementary, Kistler Elementary, Heights Murray Elementary and GAR Memorial High School in Wilkes-Barre Area School District.

The five area schools joining those six on this year's list are:

• Heights Terrace Elementary and West Hazleton Elementary/Middle School in Hazleton Area.

• Flood Elementary in Wilkes-Barre Area.

• Hanover Area Memorial Elementary in Hanover Area School District.

• State Street Elementary in Wyoming Valley West School District.

The scholarships are created through a tax credit program.

Businesses contribute funds to an entity set up specifically to collect the money and provide scholarships to eligible students. The businesses receive a tax credit for the contributions.

The state's only limits on scholarship eligibility are residence and income. Students must live in the attendance area of the school, and the family must meet income rules.

This year, a student is eligible if the household income is no greater than $75,000, plus $12,000 for each dependent member of the household. The maximum scholarship is $8,500 for a non-special education student and $15,000 for a special education student. The scholarship entity can make additional eligibility rules.

The list is relative. The state looks at the percentage of students scoring proficient or better in state math and reading tests for all schools, excluding career and technology centers.

The schools are ranked based on that information, with one list for elementary schools and another for high schools. Schools in the bottom 15 percent of those two lists make the low-achieving list.

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