Change Opens Application Opportunities to Students Facing Unexpected School Closures

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Members of the Hope Scholarship Board today approved changes to the program’s policies to allow students facing a sudden closure of their public school to apply to use Hope Scholarship funds for the current academic year – a change specifically intended to help the families of students who had planned to attend Norwood Elementary in Harrison County this fall.

“We want to make sure families who had planned to send their children to Norwood Elementary this fall have all the resources available to them to choose new educational opportunities for their kids without absorbing significant costs,” said State Treasurer Riley Moore, chairman of the Hope Scholarship Board.

“Families should not be forced to pay significant costs to relocate their children if their local school closes for reasons beyond their control,” Treasurer Moore said. “The changes we’ve made today will ensure Norwood Elementary families – and the families of any other schools that may undergo an abrupt closure – have funds available to them to provide their children with nonpublic education opportunities close to home.”

The Harrison County Board of Education was forced to initiate an emergency closure of Norwood Elementary School in late July after a structural engineering report found the building unsafe for students. The closure affected approximately 270 students who planned to attend the school.

While the deadline for the application period to use the Hope Scholarship for the 2023-2024 school year was May 15, the Hope Scholarship Board does have authority to allow late applications under extenuating circumstances.

The Board on Wednesday authorized changing their process to allow late applications when a student’s “public elementary or secondary school experiences an unexpected and extended closure, which occurs after the regular application deadline.”

The change will be effective immediately for the current school year.

The Hope Scholarship is an education savings account program available for kindergarten through 12th grade students. It is designed to allow parents and families to use the state portion of their child’s education funding to tailor an individualized learning experience that works best for their child.

The scholarship amount for the 2023-2024 year will be $4,488.82. The first portion of Hope Scholarship funds will be distributed to approved students through the program’s online portal by Aug. 15, with remaining funds distributed by Jan. 15, 2024.