Listen Live
Brebeuf Jesuit

Source: WISH-TV / other

STATEWIDE — This past legislative session, state lawmakers approved a measure to allow more families to use school vouchers provided by the state to send their children to private schools if they wish.

It was a measure that got some stiff opposition from those supporting public schools.

Advocates for private schools say ever since the bill became law, there has been a noticeable jump in the number of Hoosiers sending their children to private schools. Granted, private school numbers have general increase year-over-year recently regardless.

“We typically will see an increase annually at some level,” said John Elcesser, the executive director of the Indiana Non-Public Education Association. “But I think because of the expansion of the Choice Scholarship Program, I think those increases are more significant this year than they’ve been in the past.”

Elcessor tells WISH-TV 355 private schools have been approved to take part in the Choice Scholarship Program this year. Nearly all of those schools are religiously affiliated.

Official numbers of students who attended private school won’t be available until mid-September once districts settle into their school years.

Elcessor said that one thing they can say for certain is that most private school numbers are reflecting the communities they are located in.

“Our rates of serving students of poverty, our rates of serving students of different ethnicities and racial backgrounds are higher than the general population in the state of Indiana,” Elcessor said. “And they pretty much mirror the public school in their particular areas.”

In the previous school year of 2022-2023, 52,614 students attended a private school using Choice scholarships during the 2022-2023 school year. Another 35,344 attended private schools without using vouchers. For comparison, more than 983,000 students attended a traditional public school.