Indiana’s voucher program could be significantly expanded under legislation being considered by the General Assembly.
The state’s current voucher program is available to any student who spends at least one year in public school beyond kindergarten and has an annual income of $64,000 or less for a family of four. Proposed legislation would remove the public school attendance requirement. It would also allow voucher recipients who meet the initial income level to keep their voucher if their income goes up to as much as $127,000 a year.
South Bend resident Kevin Abbott has three children in a private grade school. And he says his family has made difficult financial sacrifices to send them there.
“To be voucher-eligible, our children would have to actually go back to public school, get reenrolled there, be there for year, then we’d have to take them back out at the end and then send them back to our private school,” he says.
But Indianapolis resident Suzanne Felli says, by raising the income requirement and eliminating the attendance requirement, the program would not help those who truly need it.
“I’m scared of what will happen if more and more parents leave the public schools,” she says. “We will begin to re-segregate the schools with charter and private schools serving the haves and public schools serving the have-nots.”
The proposed bill would also allow disabled students, foster children, siblings of voucher recipients and children of active duty military servicemembers and veterans to receive vouchers regardless of family income. And it would raise the voucher amount, which is currently capped at $4,500 per child to $5,500 next year and $6,500 dollars after that.