Today Friday is the deadline to apply for school vouchers for the 2012-2013 school year. And the number of applications has already doubled from last year. But they still don’t approach the voucher program caps.
More than 8,500 students have signed up to participate in Indiana’s school voucher program this year. That’s up from more than 3,900 students who took part last year, the program’s first year in existence.
State Department of Education spokesman Alex Damron says the numbers speak to the program’s success.
“Last year, with literally just about three months to apply, we had almost four thousand kids sign up. And we did run the largest-ever, first-year voucher program in the nation’s history,” he says.
The legislature created caps for the program’s first two years – a maximum of 7,500 students the first year and 15,000 the second. Actual participation hasn’t come close to that. But while Damron says the numbers won’t necessarily double again next year, he expects continued increases.
“As long as the program continues to run smoothly from an operational standpoint and of course, most importantly, as long as students continue to have positive educational experiences within the program, we do anticipate the program will grow,” he says.
However, Indiana State Teacher’s Association president Nate Schnellenberger says there clearly isn’t the kind of interest the legislature thought there would be.
“I think what that says to us is that parents still believe public schools are the place for their children,” he says.
The voucher legislation removed any caps from the program after this year.