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Head of School Monthly Updates

DR. KERLIN - October 4, 2023
- First Thoughts -

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

Fall Break is around the corner, thankfully. I have always been grateful we get the full week off; most schools in our area do not. I hope you are able to rest and enjoy your time away.
Let me use my monthly correspondence to give you some information about news you’ve likely heard regarding expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship Program in North Carolina. For those unfamiliar, the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) offers income-based financial assistance up to $6,492 per year to qualifying students who attend non-public K12 schools. Families must apply for the assistance and submit financial data to the state. Funds are paid directly to schools. Schools must submit a tuition and fees schedule, certify student enrollment, provide nationally standardized test scores, and submit graduate data to the state.


In late September, the NC General Assembly submitted a budget to the Governor that includes a massive expansion of NCSEAA programs, including the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). The OSP is set to expand from $133 million to more than $500 million over the next decade. The Governor has indicated he will not veto the budget, allowing it to become law.
Here are a few details you may find helpful:
  • The proposed expansion of the OSP removes the previous requirement that students attend a public school before applying for the program.
  • Fifty percent of all OSP funds would be earmarked for the lowest income families. Higher income families could receive scholarships, but in lesser dollar amounts.
  • A family of four earning $55k per year or less would get first priority, those earning $111k or less would get second priority, those earning $249k or less would receive third priority, and any remaining funds would be available to those earning above $249k annually.
  • The maximum award would rise to $7,213 per student per year. The amount potentially available to the highest income families would be $3,246.
  • NC legislators argue that scholarship amounts total less than what the state spends on each public school student, so the state will save money that it plans to reinvest in public schools beginning in the 2025-2026 academic year.
Setting aside for the moment whether OSP expansion is a good idea on the whole, it will have significant implications for SouthLake. First, it may relieve the financial pressure some of our families feel as they sacrifice to provide their children with the best education possible. Second, it could mean a sizable increase in the demand for private schools, including SouthLake. Third, it could create more upheaval for public schools in the state. Fourth, it means state government will become much more intimately involved in private education.
While some of these developments could be quite positive for SouthLake, no doubt questions and concerns will emerge. Let me reassure you we have no plans to lower our admission standards or increase class sizes. I commit to do all in my power to unpack the implications of OSP expansion and keep you informed.

That’s probably enough for one email. If you would like to discuss these matters in more detail, I am always available. May God give you a restful and enjoyable fall break.

In Christ,

Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy