Indiana

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IDOE Report Shows Voucher System Costs State $16 Million

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Indiana's private school voucher program is expanding, costing the state millions of dollars.

The private school voucher system is costing the state around $16 million, according to a report the Department of Education released this week that detailed the financial impact of the voucher system.

The AP reports that the report indicates the voucher system saved the state more than $4 million in both the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years.

The AP writes that a change during the last school year broke the saving streak:

But changes that allowed some students already attending private schools to begin receiving state aid ended up costing the state $15.8 million for the school year that just ended.

Daniel Altman, a Department of Education spokesman, delivered a limited explanation for the sudden change between school years.

“The Department is committed to a transparent accounting of how taxpayer dollars are spent. The update (in) today’s report reflects recent growth in the Choice program,” Altman said in an emailed statement.

As we’ve reported, the program grew every year since it started three years ago:

20,000 Hoosier kids are using state-funded tuition vouchers at Indiana private schools — more than double the number who did last year.

Indiana’s 3-year-old voucher program is growing quickly because it doesn’t limit participation to kids assigned to struggling schools.

Indiana’s voucher program gives low-income students the choice to attend private schools under state money that is also allocated to public schools on a per-pupil basis.

Governor Pence is a proponent of the program and wanted to expand it further, but that plan didn’t go forward because of cost concerns.

The program did expand to allow students with a sibling already attending a private school to be eligible for a voucher without attending a public school for one year first, which was one of the original criteria for a student to receive a voucher.

Comments

  • Bob Eckert

    So, the kids of the rich get a free ride! Why am I not surprised? They just waited a couple of years to sneak that one into the voucher program. You can’t trust -any- Republican. Period. Full Stop. They are as amoral and they say they are moral.

    • Alex123

      Where does it say anything about rich kids getting a free ride??? You are assuming that the students who already attend the private school come from rich families. That’s a completely wrong and irresponsible assumption. Not all kids who attend private schools are rich. Some are on academic scholarships, and many, if not all, of their families make huge sacrifices to send their children to a school where they hope they can best succeed. Those parents are making an investment in the economical and spiritual aspects of their children’s lives.

      • Bob Eckert

        Show me some data about the median income of the parents of students at private and public schools.

  • http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/ Ed Darrell

    What percentage of the kids taking advantage of the vouchers are low income?

    • BG

      Ed – there is a lot of good information in the “report” link in the first paragraph of the article. If you use the federal free or reduced lunch dollar amount as your criteria for low income, then that represents 75.5% of the kids receiving vouchers.

      • Jorfer88

        Many good points without mentioning explicitly some assumptions behind all of it. Problem with some money numbers here though: the overhead burden would not become a taxpayer expense unless people made it. Right not the per-pupil amount rightfully doesn’t give income for the things property taxes pay for. If you consider overhead from a strictly financial rather than quality point of
        view, you are looking at more savings right now unless the legislature allows Freidman to push for overhead support as they are.

        Also Freidman’s saving percentage is based on ridiculous assumption on the correctness of the formula they use to figure out how many students are diverted. Using the official diversion percentage given by the state for the previous year’s savings (21%) with a cost of $3975 per voucher and a savings of $563 per all enrolled students (not just the diverted) ($563+$3975*.21)/.79 to figure out algebraically that the average savings is $1769 per diverted student.

        That makes the break even percentage 69% diverted to 31%
        non-diverted, but Freidman believes the non-diverted rate given by law should be higher (which would result in more savings).

  • Mike D

    I do not understand that a fiscally conserative government allows this go on. The rate of growth enormous. Also – how do they figure a savings? 10,000 students x 4280 per student = $42 Million. Friedman reports that the average voucher is near $4100, so the savings to me looks like $1.8 Million, but that is really just a crude estimate for 2012- 2013. You have to add back in the overhead, fees and any other costs associated with administering the system as well as parent contributions. That burden of the other 57% of costs (or $5330) doesn’t go away. Nobody wants to talk about the other $10 Million of unaccounted costs. So in 2013-2014, there is your $16 Million loss with 20,000 students enrolled.
    This is a huge loser for our state going forward. Friedman concludes joyfully that the program is available to half the student population (my own estimates are far higher), and program enrollment doubles every year. My estimate is by 2018, when my youngest enters HS, the tab will be over $500 Million. By then, there will be 320,000 students enrolled, meaning that approximately 30% of public schools will need to close. Now, that doesn’t happen overnight, so add in the burden of maintaining these structures while they are closed and re-deployed.
    Here’s another factoid you won’t read. Program enrollment is less than 50% low income families (as defined by the federal poverty level); many of the rest are middle class, many of them in government service (most prominently school in the school systems!). Shouldn’t there be any consideration to this?
    There are serious flaws. Importantly, there does not seem to be any consideration as to the school of choice versus the school district/facility assigned when comparing ratings and results. Nor are there safe guards for choosing a school with a record of excellence. In fact, many underperforming private schools are advertising enrollment as well as schools that fund their operations out of other forms of donation (like church collections!). In other words, the voucher program is directly benefitting the administration of the private school, whatever its governance.
    Given the Court decision and the one side government here, this looks like a shift to middle and elite class entitlement (those dollars going into those private schools are not segregated!). Look for a tax increase either in sales tax, gas tax or income tax to balance this one!

    • Jorfer88

      Many good points Mike without mentioning explicitly some assumptions
      behind all of it. Problem with some money numbers here though: the
      overhead burden would not become a taxpayer expense unless people made it. Right not the per-pupil amount rightfully doesn’t give income for
      the things property taxes pay for. If you consider overhead from a
      strictly financial rather than quality point of view, you are looking at more savings right now unless the legislature allows Freidman to push for private school overhead support as the organization is doing.

      Also Freidman’s saving percentage is based on ridiculous assumption on the correctness of the formula they use to figure out how many students are diverted. It is simple to figure out the average savings per diverted student. Just use the official diversion percentage given by the state for
      the previous year (21%) with a cost of $3975 per voucher and a
      savings of $563 per each enrolled students (all students and not just the diverted)
      ($563+$3975*.21)/.79 will algebraically give that the average
      savings is $1769 per diverted student.

      That makes the break even percentage 69% diverted to 31%
      non-diverted, but Freidman believes the non-diverted rate given by law should be higher (which would result in more savings on paper).

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