Last academic year some 4,000 Indiana students left public schools and used their tax dollars to help pay tuition at private schools.
Next academic year, students in the Choice Scholarship program will have even more private schools to choose from.
“If every private school in the area is going to be accepting vouchers and they’re getting those families who couldn’t afford it in the first place, then we’re going to be left behind and we need to be able to compete,” said Stephanie Reynolds, Principal at Michiana Christian School off S. Ironwood in South Bend.
Michiana Christian School recently became academically accredited by the State of Indiana for the first time in its 36 year history. Michiana Christian is now eligible to take part in the private school voucher program.
“Simply it means that we have the state involved, we get to administer the ISTEP, for us that’s the biggest thing that accreditation means, we can administer the ISTEP, we can compare our results with the rest of the community,” said Reynolds.
North Liberty Christian School also decided to become state accredited next academic year, after Principal Adriane Baker became convinced that the school’s mission would not be compromised.
“You know there's questions you have to ask because you don't want to compromise what you've always wanted your school to be about, but with the choice scholarships the things that they ask us to do are things that we would do anyways,” said Baker.
Although both North Liberty Christian and Michiana Christian are tiny in terms of enrollment, both have room for growth and both believe they fill a niche in the voucher program.
“We have a lot of competition as far as private schools here in this area, and so we wanted to make sure that they also had a Christian, the Church of Christ, Christian, non-denominational choice instead of maybe the Catholic or Baptist, we wanted them to have that choice,” said Reynolds.
North Liberty Christian School is hoping that vouchers will lure perhaps five or six new students to the school “We have 25 students now, and we have had approximately five or six families look into it, that I don’t think would have looked into it before because, you know, because financially they just couldn’t afford it,” said Adriane Baker.
Michiana Christian most recently had an enrollment of 31 students.
Both schools cater to grades K through 6.