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Education committee backs looser school voucher rules

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A proposal that would make thousands of current private school students eligible for Indiana's school voucher program has been endorsed by a state legislative committee, although cost concerns might block its chances of advancing this year.

The state Senate Education Committee voted 5-4 Wednesday to approve a bill removing a requirement that children first spend at least one year in public schools before they can receive a voucher. Supporters say they believe all children should be treated equally.

The state this year is using about $16 million in education funds for vouchers for some 3,900 students.

The proposal now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee for review. That committee's chairman says requiring time in a public school is a key to avoiding at least tens of millions of dollars in state costs.

Supporters say the one-year requirement is a burden that can disrupt a child's education and limits the school choice that the voucher program was meant to provide. But public schools contend eliminating the requirement would take away their chance to compete for students.

The voucher law allows up to 15,000 children this coming school year. In future years there would be no cap, though voucher supporters have no estimates about what additional costs might be involved.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Dennis Kruse said last year's decision to require a year in public schools was a compromise he reluctantly accepted.

"I think parents can make the choice on knowing what they want for their child and their family," said Kruse, R-Auburn.

State figures show that nearly 27,000 private-school students participate in federal lunch programs, which have family income levels that are lower than those set for voucher eligibility.

Republican Sen. Doug Eckerty of Yorktown, who is sponsoring the bill that would remove the one-year requirement, said with more than 11,000 voucher spots open for next school year, he believed the greater flexibility would help children remain in their current schools.

"We've got room to grow into that," he said. "We can certainly take those kids instead of flipping them back and forth, just go ahead and allow them to stay."

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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

  2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. Well...you guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrst9VXVKfE

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. Well....as a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).

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