Deal close on allowing Indiana voucher expansion

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Indiana Statehouse negotiators appear close to agreeing on expanding the state's private school voucher program by making children who would attend poorly performing schools immediately eligible.

House and Senate education leaders said Wednesday the compromise being developed allows a smaller expansion than what the House approved earlier in the legislative session.

The current voucher law requires all students to spend at least one year in public schools before becoming eligible if their families meet income limits.

Republican Sen. Dennis Kruse of Auburn says the compromise would make students whose public school received a state performance grade of F immediately eligible.

The House-approved bill would have eliminated the one-year public school rule for children entering kindergarten anywhere in the state, after which they could remain a voucher student in private schools.

Last month, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld Indiana's school voucher program, clearing the way for its expansion. Indiana's program is actually the broadest in the nation.

Critics had argued that the program primarily benefited religious institutions that run private schools.

But the program's supporters say parents can send their children to any school they want, whether it's public or private, religious or not, and the Supreme Court agreed with that Tuesday. In a 5-0 decision, the justices said the program does not violate the state constitution.

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