UPDATE: State Senate Committee talks voucher expansion

Tuesday, we learned the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the state's two-year-old school voucher program which allows families to use public money to go to private schools.

The court unanimously said the program doesn't violate the state's ban on using public funds to benefit religious institutions, because the primary beneficiaries are the people using the vouchers.

Wednesday, the State Senate Committee talked about vastly expanding the voucher program, but that didn't happen. Instead, the main focus was on siblings.

The senate rewrote the legislation to allow siblings of voucher school students to qualify for the program.

It would also qualify students who would otherwise attend a failing public school for a voucher without having to spend the one-year period in public schools, which is currently required by law.

The panel also voted to study preschool vouchers rather than spend $7 million annually on a pilot program.

The amendment would also authorize the establishment of a student number which normally would not be created until the kids reached kindergarten.

That way they can track economic progress from the age of four on up.

Many private schools favor this voucher program because they are seeing enrollment go up, but one Michiana private school is against it.

“It gives the choice scholarships to siblings of a child who has attended a public school, so that would mean that once one family member in a public school has attended a public school if the family chooses to have to receive the choice scholarship they can," says Resurrection Lutheran Academy Principal, Walt Mischnick, “Well, first of all, we don’t agree with one test fits all. We really feel that it is unfair for children and schools to base a grade on one exam.

In the meantime, some public schools participating in the voucher program are just moving forward and are ready to fight for their kids.

“Our focus is on making sure that we are providing quality educational opportunities for kids and we think that the competition requires that of us and we are equal to that challenge,” says executive director of Support Services, Doug Hasler.

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