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Website explains vouchers

Parents’ 1st step: Apply to an approved private school

– The Indiana Department of Education on Friday unveiled a website to provide information about the newly approved state voucher system.

The site includes an initial list of eligible private schools and answers to frequently asked questions.

Lawmakers in April approved vouchers, which will provide state dollars to Hoosier kids who want to attend private or parochial schools.

The amount of money available for a student depends on the household income and the local district’s state funding. . A family of four, for example, could make up to $62,000 and still be eligible for a partial voucher.

Vouchers for grades 1 through 8 are capped at $4,500. Parents are responsible for paying any tuition above the voucher amount.

With school start dates inching nearer, many parents have been waiting for the mechanics of the program.

The Department of Education has broken the procedure into three parts.

First, private schools must apply to the Department of Education to participate in the voucher program.

The state agency has been processing applications from schools that want to accept vouchers and on Friday posted a list of 100 that have been approved so far.

Seven schools are in Fort Wayne with several others in area counties.

The list will be updated weekly.

Parents must then apply to a state-approved private school and have their child accepted. The student must meet the private school’s admission requirements, though the school can’t discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin.

And the school is responsible for confirming that the student is eligible to receive a voucher, including verifying income.

Once accepted, parents will work with the school to apply for the voucher. The application will be done through a password-protected website to which only school administrators will have access.

The Department of Education will approve vouchers on a first-come, first-served basis and will not assign quotas to any particular school or county. There is a cap of 7,500 voucher students the first year.

The voucher program is also being challenged in state court. A preliminary injunction hearing for that lawsuit has been set for Aug. 11.

nkelly@jg.net

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