INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana could soon become the nationís leader for use of
school vouchers if unprecedented growth in the stateís school choice program
The Indiana Department of Education reports more than 20,000 students have
signed up for the three-year-old voucher program for the 2013-2014 school
year. Thatís more than double last yearís number.
The numbers put Indiana second in the nation for use of the vouchers, which
give qualifying families public money to offset tuition costs at private
schools. Milwaukee has more than 24,000 students enrolled in its program,
while Ohio has just under 16,000. But both of those programs grew slowly
over many years, The Indianapolis Star reported.
School choice advocates say they arenít surprised by Indianaís rapid growth,
especially in Indianapolis. Marion County accounted for 30 percent of all
voucher students statewide last year.
ďThe growth in Indianaís voucher program is amazing, but not totally
unexpected given the quality of the non-public schools in and around Marion
County,Ē said Robert Enlow, CEO of the Indianapolis-based Friedman
Foundation, which advocates for vouchers nationally.
How much money a student receives depends on the familyís income and the
school district they live in. The maximum is $4,700 for elementary school
Experts say they donít expect to see the number of students applying for
vouchers to continue to double because there arenít enough spaces available
in private schools. A 2010 study indicated that there were about 22,000
vacant seats available in private schools in Indiana.
That number has likely grown, but another space study is planned.