The annual school voucher report released last week by the Indiana Department of Education includes lots of useful and important information. But something is missing.
Gone from the 122-page report is the “special distribution” calculation, which gave us an idea of how much the voucher program could be costing the state’s taxpayers. In its place is a new calculation that shows how much it might cost if all voucher students attended Indiana public schools.
Adam Baker, spokesman for the education department, said the old calculation was dropped because the result “can be misleading as it does not show a true depiction of what the cost/benefit situation is.”
That’s true, but neither does the new calculation. It’s obvious that many families receiving vouchers never had any intention of sending their children to public schools, so the cost of their education amounts to a new expense for the state, not a savings. The voucher program has become a state subsidy for religious education.
The special distribution calculation provided a sort of worst-case estimate of the net cost to the state of the voucher program. In 2015-16 the figure was $53.2 million.