INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
State spending for Indiana’s school voucher program grew to $153 million for
the 2017-18 academic year and helped more than 35,000 students attend
private secular and religious schools.
program, known as school choice, allows students to use public money to pay
for tuition at non-public schools.
A recent Indiana
Department of Education report shows that student participation in the
voucher program has grown by 3.4 percent this school year. But participation
growth has slowed over the past two school years after a 12 percent increase
in the 2015-16 academic year.
official said the agency doesn’t keep information to help identify why
growth has slowed.
This year marks a
record high for the number of students who are using vouchers and have never
attended an Indiana public school. Of the state’s 35,458 voucher students
this school year, more than 56 percent never attended a public school,
compared to about 52 percent three years ago.
The report shows
that costs to Indiana public schools continue to rise. In Allen County, the
public school districts’ costs were estimated to have grown by more than
$500,000, to $25.8 million in 2017.
estimated financial losses for public school districts based on the number
of students living within district boundaries who attend voucher schools.
Hollingsworth, school board president for Fort Wayne Community Schools, said
money spent on voucher students would equal an additional $150 per student
in public schools throughout Indiana. Fort Wayne Community Schools saw the
highest financial hit, more than $20 million, among Indiana public schools.
superintendent what he/she could do in his/her district with an extra $150
per student,” she said. “Combine that with the fact that public school
funding in Indiana has not kept up with inflation since 2009, it is easy to
see that public school districts are being asked to do more with fewer