Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Proposal To Expand Voucher Eligibility Passes House Education Committee

    Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

    Students work on research papers in ninth grade English at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis.

    The House Education Committee voted in favor of a proposal to increase the number of students eligible to receive state vouchers to attend private school.

    Currently, students must spend a year post-kindergarten in public school and have an income of less than $64,000 for a family of four to receive a voucher.

    HB 1003 also increases the maximum voucher amount for students in kindergarten through eighth grade from $4,500 to 6,500 over the next two years.

    Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes, who voted against the bill, says he’s concerned private schools will increase their tuition if more voucher money is available.

    “It’s wasteful spending to let someone charge us a fee just because we’re willing to pay it,” says Battles, who also voted against a proposal to create a preschool pilot because students in the program would qualify automatically for the state’s voucher program.

    But Chairman Robert Behning called the current $4,500 maximum at the lower grades “an artificial cap.” He pointed out that vouchers are already capped at 90 percent of the local school district’s per-pupil funding amount. (The only Indiana schools that receive less than $4,500 from the state per student are charter schools.)

    Here’s who else would be available to receive a Choice Scholarship from the state under the proposed voucher changes:

    • Foster children;
    • Disabled children who require special education;
    • Siblings of current voucher recipients;
    • Children of active duty military or honorably discharged veterans;
    • Current private school students who would otherwise qualify for a voucher;
    • Students with a family income (for four) up to $127,000, provided they met income eligibility requirements when they first qualified for the voucher.

    Earlier, the Senate Education Committee considered a bill that would allow siblings of current Choice Scholarship recipients to qualify for a voucher without first attending public school. But Chairman Dennis Kruse says he plans to hold that proposal for the more expansive House version.


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