Almost 20,000 Now Using Ind. School Vouchers

Posted On January 28, 2014

By Mike Perleberg

chalkboard-apple-chalk-teacher-school-classroom-01252012.jpg(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana’s school voucher program is continuing to grow with almost 20,000 students receiving state funds to attend private schools.

The Indiana Department of Education released its annual report about the Choice Scholarship Program on Monday. Created in 2011, the

Prior to this school year, the state law creating the voucher program had been capped on students who could take advantage of it. In 2011-12, the scholarships were limited to 7,500 students, then 15,000 in the 2012-13 school year. This year, the cap has been removed.

This year’s enrollment in the program skyrocketed to 19,808 students – about 1.8 percent of all students in Indiana – attending 313 different private schools across the state. The enrollment figure is more than double from 9,138 students at 289 schools last year.

Southeast Indiana area school corporations saw the following number of students residing in their corporation use a Choice Scholarship to attend elsewhere:

Batesville, 51

South Dearborn, 33

Sunman-Dearborn, 26

Numbers were not available for Lawrenceburg, Jac-Cen-Del, Milan, South Ripley, Rising Sun-Ohio County, or Switzerland County schools.

Local private schools, largely religion-oriented, received the following number of voucher students:

Oldenburg Academy, 13

St. Louis School in Batesville, 52

St. Mary School in Aurora, 31

St. Michael School in Brookville, 18

St. Paul Catholic School in Guilford, 19

A voucher figure for St. Lawrence School in Lawrenceburg was not available.

The report has raised concerns about students receiving vouchers without ever having attended a public school first. That number of students is 7,779 this school year, up from 1,916 in the 2012-13. The original law was written with the intent that voucher families try public schools for one year before being eligible for a voucher. Changes to the law have allowed for exceptions for siblings of voucher students, special needs children, and students looking to get out of an F-rated school.

The voucher program cost Indiana $36 million last year, but the state did save $4.9 million by not having those students attend a public school. The savings was distributed to public schools. Opponents of the Choice Scholarship program contend that Indiana public schools are still receiving far less than before the vouchers were made legal.