Christian Life Academy officials express wariness toward voucher program
Baton Rouge independent school Christian Life Academy won't be participating in a state-funded tuition voucher program if it requires state-mandated testing and other regulations, according to a letter from school leaders to parents. The letter, which The Times-Picayune has obtained and posted in its entirety here, is from Dr. Jere Melilli, a physician who founded Christian Life Fellowship and CLA, its affiliated school, as well as school Headmaster Peter Barnes. "Our greatest concern at this moment is the potential for governmental interference in our school. CLA will not enter into a program that has strings attached that would limit or prohibit the continuation of our Christian values, selective decisions about the hiring of staff, selective decisions about the acceptance of students or the choice of our curriculum," the letter reads. "Furthermore, we are not in favor of state-mandated testing and will not enter into programs that require that we participate." The letter highlights a key question in the voucher debate: What kind of performance measures, if any, should the state impose on private schools as a requirement to receive public education dollars? Melilli and Barnes say in the letter that CLA will decide whether to accept voucher students only after the Legislature has approved a version of Gov. Bobby Jindal's proposed tuition-grant program. That decision will likely come soon, as the Senate was to take up the issue Wednesday after the House versions passed without amendments. CLA has an enrollment of about 625 students in kindergarten through the 12th grade.
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