As the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship program continues to grow, seven more private schools have become eligible to accept students using the scholarship for the 2008-09 school year.

This is good news for parents as the deadline for scholarship applications grows near. That deadline is Tuesday, according to Judi Clark, incoming executive director for Parents for Choice in Education.

"Children with special needs have more options across Utah," Clark said.

The seven new private schools bring the total to 47. Added to the list are:

Canyon School for the Arts, Orem; Caritas Academy of Classical Christen Education, Washington; Evergreen Montessori Academy, South Ogden; Kid's World, Salt Lake; Ogden Valley Montessori, Eden; St. Andrews Catholic School, Riverton; U Can Learn, Orem.

The Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship, which was signed into law by Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. in 2005, provides a state-funded voucher to K-12 students with disabilities.

In the 2007-08 school year, 514 students received Carson Smith Scholarships. This number continues to increase every year as more parents of children with disabilities learn that education options exist to meet their children's unique needs, PCE officials say.

A regularly scheduled government audit released in January by the Legislative Auditor General found that the Carson Smith Scholarship was successfully meeting its intended goals and producing very high rates of satisfaction among participating parents.

All of the parents felt that the programs should continue. Eighty-nine percent said their child's academic performance increased in the private school of their choice.

Kristi Saunders, PCE's Carson Smith outreach coordinator, helps parents and schools navigate the application process. "As a mother of a special needs child, it's rewarding to see parents ecstatic because their children's needs are being met, thanks to the Carson Smith scholarship," Saunders said.

Parents can apply for the a scholarship throughout the school year, but to receive the full amount for the 2008-09 school year, applications must be submitted by Tuesday.

For information, contact PCE at 532-1448 or go to