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Schools Say Voucher Reimbursement Doesn’t Make Up For Cuts

Bartholomew County lost about 40 students to private schools this year because of school vouchers. (above) Central Middle School

Indiana school corporations are given state funds based on the number of students they enroll each year. So when students and parents took advantage of the state’s school voucher program this year, the state took the funds schools were receiving for those students and applied them to the vouchers.

But even the maximum amount a student can receive in the voucher program is usually less than the amount of money a public school would have received to educate that same student. The Indiana Department of Education is now splitting that difference and redistributing the leftover money back to public schools.

The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation is getting $42,000 back — after losing $208,000 dollars to the voucher program earlier this year. District finance director Vaughn Silva says he is glad to receive the money. Although he also points out they have had to make budget cuts because operating costs typically remain the same even if a student leaves the school.

“We estimated 40 students that we lost and if you have 10 elementaries, that amounts to four students per elementary school and that amounts to less than one per grade, so you’re not going to be able any number of teachers or aids,” Silva says.

Supporters of vouchers and charter schools argue linking state funding to a student’s enrollment choices is an important policy change. Indiana Department of Education spokesperson Stephanie Sample says it wouldn’t have made sense to give districts money for children that weren’t enrolled in their schools.

“To say that some schools are upset that they’re not seeing a proportional dispersment based on the voucher kids, I think it’s important to keep in mind that those are students they are no longer educating,” Sample says.

Monroe County Community School Corporation is getting back nearly $41,000 and Vigo County School Corporation is receiving nearly $65,000.

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