Seventy-three percent of the new private school voucher students this year attended a private school in Wisconsin last year, according to the Department of Public Instruction. Just 19% of new students in the voucher program this year transferred from a Wisconsin public school.
“The voucher program is primarily funding students who are already enrolled in private schools,” said WEAC President Betsy Kippers. “Meanwhile, students in public schools have fewer teachers and larger class sizes because funding is being channeled to private school subsidies, even though voucher schools are unaccountable to taxpayers and don’t perform as well as public schools.
“Funneling tax dollars to create a separate and unequal private voucher school system takes desperately needed funding away from the majority of children in our neighborhood public schools. That’s unfair and it’s time it came to a stop.”
According to the DPI:
For the 2014-15 school year, there are 1,013 students receiving a voucher to attend a private school, which translates to 997.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) students. Four-year-old kindergarten (K4) students attending partial day programs are counted as 0.5 FTE or 0.6 FTE, depending on the services provided. Of the 538 new students to the WPCP in the 2014-15 school year, 19.2 percent (100.5 FTE) attended a public school last year. Over the two years of the program, 19.9 percent (206 FTE) of students who received a voucher had attended a public school in the year prior to receiving the voucher.
There are 31 private schools or school systems participating in the program in the 2014-15 school year. State law limits enrollment in WPCP to 1,000 FTE students, up from 500 FTE last year. Enrollment numbers reported are from the student count conducted on the third Friday in September at each school. Student eligibility will be reviewed by independent auditors per state law and submitted to the DPI in December, so enrollment numbers are subject to change.
For the 2014-15 school year, state law was changed to provide each eligible private school participating in the WPCP with a voucher payment of $7,210 per FTE student in grades K4 through 8, or $7,856 per FTE student in grades 9 through 12. After independent audits are conducted, the aid amounts may be adjusted with repayments required if operating and debt service costs are lower than the amount of the voucher. The WPCP is estimated to cost $7,384,400 in 2014-15, and is fully funded from state tax dollars classified as general purpose revenue.