FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CBS) — Indiana’s school voucher program has finished its first year, and state officials say it is a true success story.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Marsett reports, some 4,800 Indiana students have signed up for vouchers to attend private schools in the fall. That figure is up about 800 students from the present school year, and the voucher deadline is still months away.

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LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Marsett reports

The Indiana voucher program is considered one of the most expansive in the country, because its income guidelines are wide and students from all schools are eligible. The state’s average voucher was worth $4,150 this year.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports in the program’s first year $15.5 million in taxpayer funds were sent to largely religious-affiliated private schools rather than public schools.

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The newspaper also reports that the voucher students are not always a good fit at the private or parochial schools. Mary Keefer, principal of Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne, told the Journal Gazette she picked up 58 voucher students and only had four or five left during the school year.

The school asked some students to leave, while others decided it wasn’t the right choice and left on their own, the Journal Gazette reported.

And despite the praise and success stories, school vouchers have always been a state of controversy. In particular, critics such as the Indiana Teachers Association have said the voucher program violates the constitutional separation of church and state because it allows public funds to support children attending religious schools.

Public schools also object to the funding loss each time a voucher-supported student leaves, the newspaper reported.

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