Some parents of students attending Altoona Area School District's Wright Elementary School will have the option to apply for money through the state to send their children elsewhere for an education after it made a lowest-achieving school list with more than 400 other public schools in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education on Wednesday released a list of 414 public schools in 74 districts across the state that reside in the bottom 15 percent based on the 2010-11 school year's standardized tests in math and reading.
Wright Elementary was the only Blair County school on the list. Other area schools on the list are Osceola Mills Elementary School and West Branch Area Elementary School.
The district had received the notice Wednesday, and parents had not been informed yet, district spokeswoman Paula Foreman said. The district is gathering more information.
Foreman referred further questions to Assistant Superintendent Mary Lou Ray. An attempt to reach Ray for comment wasn't successful Wednesday night.
Philadelphia has nearly 40 percent of the schools on the list.
This is not the first time Wright Elementary had to offer a choice, but it is the first time the state has offered to pay for it.
Schools not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress in the past had to allow parents the option of transferring their children to another school. In 2010, Wright was among five of the district's elementary schools not reaching Pennsylvania System of School Assessments goals.
"The availability of these scholarships opens up other educational options for these students who were, until today, trapped in a poor performing school," state Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair, said in a release Wednesday.
Gov. Tom Corbett recently signed into law the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program, the release said.
The Department of Community and Economic Development-administered program gives a tax break to businesses donating to opportunity scholarship organizations, and enables families whose students attend lowest-achieving schools and meet income guidelines to apply for a scholarship funded through a $50 million tax credit to attend another public or non-public school, including Catholic schools.
A family's household annual income cannot exceed $60,000, plus $12,000 for each dependent, according to the education department. The maximum scholarship for a non-special education student is $8,500 and $15,000 for a special education student in the 2012-13 school year.
It could affect more than 242,000 students, the education department said.
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030. The Associated Press contributed to this story.