Wisconsin Voucher Program: Exacerbates Inequity by Stealing from Local School District Budgets

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A new study for the National Education Policy Center by Ellie Bruecker of the University of Wisconsin warns that Wisconsin’s statewide voucher program, as it grows, will increasingly exacerbate fiscal inequity across the state’s public school districts.

In the 2015-2017 state budget bill, Wisconsin expanded the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program statewide school vouchers by eliminating a 2,000 student statewide cap and sunsetting a district-by-district student participation cap. The new law provides that the participation cap for any district’s students will increase one percent a year until 2026-2027, after which the district cap will disappear altogether.

At the same time Wisconsin changed the way the state funds vouchers. While, before 2015, statewide vouchers were funded by the state through its General Purpose Revenue fund, the 2015 budget bill began counting voucher students as part of the overall enrollment of their local school district and deducting money from the school district’s state’s…

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