Support for Catholic Schools tax credit will help ‘level the playing field’

Kansas, like more than two dozen states, has adopted an income tax credit for individuals and corporations that has the potential to level the playing field for schools with high concentrations of low income families.
The Kansas Legislature has allocated $10 million per year for tax credits to individuals or corporations that contribute to scholarship granting organizations, known as SGOs. Donors to an SGO will receive a 70 per cent tax credit toward their state income tax bill. For example, a contribution of $5,000, would reduce the donor’s state taxes by $3,500.
The scholarship granting organization, approved by Bishop Carl A. Kemme for the Diocese of Wichita, is named Support for Catholic Schools, Inc. SCS was granted tax exempt status in 2016 and is operating exclusively for the benefit of the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Wichita. The corporation is governed by a board of directors with Michael Wescott, director of the diocesan office of Development and Planned Giving, serving as its chief advisor.
To be eligible for SCS financial assistance, schools must have students who qualify as an at-risk pupil. At-risk pupils are defined as those eligible for free lunch under the National School Lunch Act and live in a specifically defined public school attendance area. Additionally, these students would need to be starting in the Catholic school as a kindergartener, or would have transferred into an eligible Catholic school from a specifically defined public school attendance area. About half of the attendance areas are in Wichita, but there are also eligible areas in Hutchinson, Pittsburg, and Fort Scott.
Kansas State Rep. Chuck Weber, a member of Church of the Resurrection, said education is the great equalizer in society.
“Expanding the school tax credit program in Kansas was a difficult, but ultimately successful legislative struggle,” he said via email. “This modest, but important step forward will offer parents and their children currently trapped in failing schools more options and choices for a better education – in Catholic schools and elsewhere.”
Diocesan superintendent Bob Voboril believes SCS will have an enormous impact on diocesan schools. “We have about 850 children who qualify for a free hot lunch under the National Hot Lunch program. At a cost of about $5,000 per student, there is a potential for over $4 million to be raised for our neediest schools. This would be another giant step toward our vision of leveling the playing field for all our SCS schools.”
Diocesan Director of Development Mike Wescott urged those interested in the tax credit not to hesitate. “There’s a $10 million limit in tax credits, so we think that the credits could get used up quickly.”

Interested in SCS?
For more information or to make a contribution to SCS, contact Wescott at 316-269-3917, at wescottm@CatholicDioceseOfWichita.org, or by mail at Office of Development, 424 N. Broadway, Wichita, KS 67202.