Proposed Legislation May Add to Voucher Program, Put Cops in Schools

The Indiana General Assembly may soon propose another expansion to what is already the nation’s largest school voucher program as lawmakers convene Monday. More than 9000 students are expected to receive vouchers this year.

In the next few months, legislators are expected to consider the possibility of removing the requirement that students attend public school for a year before being eligible for the voucher program, and they will also consider increasing the amount of aid available to younger students.

The voucher program is designed to provide public grants to families with low and moderate income who wish to send their children to private schools, but the Indiana Supreme Court is still weighing whether or not the program is lawful.

Vernon Smith, a Democratic representative, said the General Assembly should hold off on expanding the program and would rather wait and see the effect of the program before modifying it. He said he feels vouchers actually have a negative effect on urban school districts and is hesitant to expand it.

Another lawmaker is looking to have the state pay for more resource officers for local schools, and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is in favor of it. State Senator Pete Miller’s bill would set aside $10 million in state money to pay for more cops in schools.

Local school districts would be able to apply for grants of up to $50,000 per year for two years to pay for the armed security, but districts would have to match that amount. Zoeller vehemently emphasized that this is not a direct response to the shoots in Newtown, Conn.