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Nearly 20,000 got private-school vouchers

Program to cost Indiana up to $81 million this year

INDIANAPOLIS – Nearly 20,000 Indiana students received a voucher to attend private school this year – a program set to cost the state up to $81 million this year.

According to a new report released by the Indiana Department of Education Monday, the program grew 116 percent this year, largely because of an expansion of the program by legislators last year.

For instance, more than 5,000 students were newly eligible because of a sibling, special education or F-rated public school exemption.

Overall, the program is shifting from serving students stuck in struggling public schools to many students who have never attended a public school.

The data shows in the first year of the program 90.2 percent of the children previously attended an Indiana public school and 9.8 percent did not. That has moved to 60.7 percent previously attending an Indiana public school and 39.3 percent not.

Also, this year, 2,786 students who reside within the boundaries of the Fort Wayne Community Schools district received a voucher.

That is up from 1,149 last year, or a 142 percent jump – and is the highest raw number in the state.

This does not mean each student attended FWCS before. Some students who live in the district could have previously attended private school, were home-schooled or for various other reasons did not attend FWCS.