Heather Snavely asks a student to stay seated while playing math games in her classroom at Our Lady of Hungary Catholic school in South Bend. More photos after the jump.
If Indiana’s voucher program helps fuel a population boom like it did at Our Lady of Hungary Catholic school, small private schools ought to take a cue from principal Melissa Jay: get on good terms with your textbook company.
Our Lady’s seen a 60 percent spike in enrollment this year alone, the first year for the vouchers. That’s meant Jay’s gone back to the textbook company three times for more books.
For just three books? No.
“Three additional shipments of boxes of books,” Jay says with a characteristic laugh.
In 2009, the diocese was considering closing Our Lady — a small, aging parish and K-8 school in a working class South Bend neighborhood. Families panicked, and enrollment dropped to 92. But fundraising and outreach bumped enrollment to 134 last year, and with the help of the state’s voucher program, the school’s nearly full with 211 students this year.
Our Lady also is an example of why public school advocates are panicked about what effect the program could have on the education landscape. After all, funds for vouchers (as much as $4,500 per scholarship) are funds taken away from a public school, whose costs — voucher opponents point out — do not change incrementally every time they lose or gain a student.