A top-of-mind awareness advertising campaign costing thousands of dollars just to promote new student admissions within the Evansville Vanderburgh School district might seem like an enormous waste of time and money to many area residents.

However, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation officials say that many Indiana public school systems are being forced to start marketing themselves to parents using traditional media outlets like newspapers and billboards as a way to compete with the Indiana Voucher program, which led to the EVSC losing over a hundred students to private schools last year.

The Indiana Voucher program was passed in 2011, offering qualifying Hoosier families the opportunity to send their children to private school for up to 90 percent off their child’s tuition. The Indiana Voucher program is currently the largest in the nation.

According to EVSC communications director Marsha Jackson, each time a family opts to pull a child out of the public school system to send them to private school, the school district loses up to $8,400 per child in state public education funding.

Last year, EVCS schools lost 120 students to the voucher program, while cities like Indianapolis and Fort Wayne each lost nearly 400 students to privately run facilities.

The EVSC “Bringing Learning to Life” advertising campaign kicked off in June, but until Indiana schools count students sometime in mid-September, there is no way of determining just how well the marketing efforts are working – if at all.

With the Indiana Voucher program recently doubling in size, public school officials are worried that those numbers will continue to grow next year, when the cap on vouchers will be removed.