Indianapolis Public Schools is set to lose hundreds of students, and millions in state funding, to Indiana's new voucher program, which could force the district to slash programming, officials said.
Nearly 3,700 students have signed up for vouchers, including about 600 IPS students. The program's cap is set at 7,500 students.
Indiana Department of Education spokesman Alex Damron said 85 percent of the voucher applications are from students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.
This truly is about giving our neediest students the opportunity to have the same choices that our students of means have, he said.
But IPS officials see it differently.
"The fact of the matter is, taking public money from one of the state's poorest districts to fund the education of children at private schools is a huge problem for us," said district spokeswoman Mary Louise Bewley.
The loss of millions in state funding will force IPS to make more cuts, in and out of the classroom.
"As we look to this fall and this winter as to what budget cuts, I would not be surprised to see cut back in programming," Bewley said. "It's definitely a tough time for IPS."
State education officials have said they hope the competition from the voucher program will raise standards across the board.
Bewley said the district believes many of the students will return to IPS.
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