FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- Northwest Allen County Schools is advocating for better public school funding and requesting greater transparency of public money used to support private education.
Since the beginning of the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program, $1 billion of public money has been spent on private and parochial schools.
As of now, these institutions do not have to be audited by the State Board of Accounts or report how money is being spent.
One organization - Americans For Prosperity Indiana - argues that's the school’s business.
“Where is it all going?”
A question mother-of-three Heather Emley and other parents in Northwest Allen County Schools are asking.
“The public school systems have to be audited and everything is counted down to the last pencils and piece of paper,” Emley said.
The same isn’t the case for private or parochial schools.
“Are they going to be under the same strict guidelines that the public school system is? To follow that money, to see where it’s being spent,” she said.
NACS Spokeswoman Lizette Downey says that’s why the Board of Trustees passed two resolutions relating to the biennium budget.
The first is, “Putting more money into the overall budget for education for public schools, especially when they are allocating a significant portion going to the voucher program, growing and expanding that,” Downey said.
The second is, “We are pleading that we should all have the same requirements. If you’re taking public dollars, then the public deserves to know how the money is being spent,” she said.
Ninety-seven percent of school-aged children living in the district attend public school. That’s why NACS opposes an expansion of the state voucher program.
Americans for Prosperity Indiana believes the opposite.
“We want to continue to expand this program and empower even more families to have access to an educational environment that works best for them," Americans for Prosperity Indiana spokesman Michael Chartier said.
Chartier says an audit of private institution spending is unnecessary.
He says even though they’re receiving taxpayer money, it’s the business of the school and the parent only.
For his organization, school choice is the key to student success.
“For a lot of students that’ll be the public school they’re assigned to. But for a lot of kids it’s going to be something different,” Chartier said.
But Emley worries that these private schools value profit over people.
“It’s not a big business. This should be something where we break even every year and get the resources we need so that students are successful in their education," she said.
Gov. Eric Holcomb identified a need to invest $600 million into the public school funding.
The money would help create competitive wages for teachers and increase recruitment and retention.