Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Voucher Plan to Grow Monday ; Revision Offers More Help to More Students

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Voucher Plan to Grow Monday ; Revision Offers More Help to More Students

Article excerpt

Indiana's school voucher program has taken a turn in the right direction, according to Lindsey Brown, executive director of School Choice Indiana. The program that started in 2011 will offer even more educational options for Hoosier families starting Monday when the Indiana School Voucher Improvement Bill (HEA 1003) goes into effect.

The bill, signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence on May 9, broadens eligibility for the school voucher program, expands Indiana's tax credit scholarship program and continues a tax deduction for families with children home-schooled or already enrolled in private school.

"The key thing in this expansion is that it really expands access to the program and makes more students eligible," Brown said. "And some of those specifics around that expansion include siblings of current voucher or tax credit students could be eligible for the program without having to go back to public school for a year. An interest is keeping families in the same schools and preventing parents from having to run all over town to send their kids to different schools."

When families receive a voucher, the state helps pay for an eligible student to attend a private school.

Other provisions of the Voucher Improvement Bill, Brown said, include allowing students in a school rated "F" by the Department of Education to use the program. Special needs students also will have voucher eligibility, and those students have a higher income threshold, set at 200 percent of the free-and-reduced lunch level.

Students qualifying for the federal free-and-reduced lunch program, with a total family income of $43,568 for a family of four, are eligible for a voucher worth up to 90 percent of the state tuition amount, which is capped at $4,700 for grades K-8. Children from families that earn up to 150 percent of the free- andreduced lunch eligibility, an income of $65,352 for a family of four, can receive a scholarship for up to 50 percent of the state tuition amount. …

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