Phil Downs, superintendent of the Southwest Allen County schools in Indiana, explains here how the cumulative effect of vouchers reduces spending in every public school in the state. 

There are about 1,040,000 students in Indiana. There are 35,500 voucher students in the state, most attending religious schools. Most have never attended a public school in the past, and only 274 were issued to students leaving F-rated public schools. Each voucher is worth about $4,258. Basically, the state is using public dollars to subsidize tuition at religious schools (which the state constitution explicitly prohibits but which the state courts approved).

He writes:

It is conventional wisdom that the voucher program only affects big cities. While voucher usage is higher in big cities, the financial effect is felt in every school district because the voucher dollars come out of Tuition Support, in effect reducing the dollars supporting students in all public schools…

The impact of the voucher program is not based on how many vouchers are used in your district. It is based on each year’s voucher program cost to the Tuition Support budget across the state, regardless of the number of vouchers used within the district. For example, Lebanon Schools lost more than $530,000, Plainfield Schools lost more than $770,000, and Carmel Schools lost more than $2,365,000 this year. Currently, there are 23 school districts where no vouchers are used. They are small districts and the voucher program costs them more than $4 million this year combined. Peru Schools is the largest of these districts and it lost more than $321,000.

Here are this year’s losses in Allen County: East Allen County Schools, $1.38 million; Fort Wayne Community Schools, $4.47 million; Northwest Allen County Schools, $1.13 million; and Southwest Allen County Schools, $1.08 million.

To make this complicated issue much simpler…think of a loganberry pie. Indiana has baked a smaller pie and expects it to feed a larger number of people. More kids, fewer dollars.

Put simply, one million students are suffering loss of school funding so that the 35,000 students previously enrolled in religious schools get a subsidy. The one million pay for the others. The one million lose teachers, get larger classes, and have fewer programs. Is that fair? It is certainly not wise.