A Shift Is On: Vouchers Shakeup Enrollments In Fort Wayne Area Schools

By Jeff Neumeyer

November 21, 2012 Updated Nov 21, 2012 at 7:08 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) --- Indiana’s voucher program is having a big impact on student enrollments in Fort Wayne area schools, both public and private.

Fort Wayne Community Schools is losing ground, both in terms of student numbers and government dollars flowing in.

1,165 FWCS students have now used vouchers to re-locate to private schools.

Because dollars follow the students, it has cost FWCS more than $7-million.

Catholic schools in Fort Wayne are benefiting from the shakeup.

1,738 students now attend one of 41 catholic schools in the community, including Precious Blood School, with the help of government vouchers.

The Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese says the new system is good for families.

" For 167 years in this community, Catholics have paid taxes, as well as tuition. So, it is a social justice issue, in terms of parents making the best choice for the child, and we think the parent is in the best position to do that," says Dr. Mark Myers, Superintendent of the Diocesan Catholic Schools.

The local teachers union, the Fort Wayne Education Association, has a different view of what is fair and just on this issue.

Executive Director Steve Brace says, "We believe the Indiana Constitution fully supports public funding for public schools. If someone decides to send their child to a private school, we have no quarrel with it, but it's on them. There's no way taxpayers should have to pay for that," Brace said.

But taxpayers are picking up the tab.

$38-million in state funds were funneled to private schools under the program this year.

A total of 13 Lutheran schools from Kendallville to Decatur—including schools in Fort Wayne--- now have 380 additional students courtesy of vouchers.

Blackhawk Christian Schools has seen enrollment increase by 110 students thanks to vouchers.

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