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Number of Students Receiving Vouchers Jumps Again

Fewer students receiving vouchers are spending time in public school before making the switch to private school, according to a report released Monday by the Indiana Department of Education.

That’s because state lawmakers voted last year to make more students eligible for vouchers.

More than 19,000 Indiana students received vouchers to attend private school using state funds this year. That’s an increase from 9,100 last year and 3,900 two years ago.

It used to be that income-eligible students had to spend at least two semesters in a public school to receive a voucher. But last year state lawmakers said the siblings of students receiving vouchers, students living in the attendance zone of a failing school and students receiving special education services could automatically qualify for vouchers.

As a result nearly 40 percent of voucher recipients have never attended public school … up from just 10 percent when the voucher program started two years ago.

Fatima Carson is the choice specialist for the Indiana Department of Education.

“We’re now paying scholarships for this cluster of kids that we would never had paid any public funding for them to be in the public school,” Carson said.

That includes 5,000 students who qualified for vouchers under the new rules.

The state expects to spend $81 million on vouchers this year.

For more stories from our StateImpact Indiana team covering education, check out their website.