Nearly 4,000 students will take part in the first year of Indiana's school voucher program, state officials said Thursday.
The Legislature set a cap of 7,500 students for the first two years of the program, which allows low- to moderate-income families to use tax money to switch to private schools.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said the first group of students represents a "diverse and robust cross-section of families and schools in every region of Indiana."
Eighty-five percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch, more than half of the students represent minority households and just more than 30 percent are from rural and suburban Indiana, officials said.
"Hoosier parents are more empowered than ever before in our state," Bennett said. "Demographics do not determine a child's ability to grow academically and should not determine the educational opportunities offered to any student."
More than 250 schools are able to accept students through the voucher program.
Bennett said Indiana has had the best first-year response of any state that has adopted vouchers.
Next year, the cap on vouchers goes up to 15,000.
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