The Assembly Education Committee Wednesday adopted a voucher school measure that will cost public schools an additional $14.2 million in the first year.
Under the amendment, districts with resident students in the statewide or Racine voucher programs will lose revenue limit authority and will likely have to pay for voucher students by reducing educational opportunities for the children that remain in their districts. WEAC strongly opposes this proposal.
The vote on Assembly Amendment 3 to Assembly Bill 751 was 9-5. The Committee then passed AB 751 as amended on a party line vote with Republicans voting to pass the bill. The bill will now likely move on for an Assembly floor vote Tuesday, February 16th.
Under this amendment, in the first year of this plan, 142 school districts in the Racine and Wisconsin Parental Choice Programs are estimated to lose a total of $14.2 million. That’s on top of frozen revenue limits in both years of the current state budget. The Republicans say school districts that have restrictions placed on their revenue caps under this amendment will be “made whole” after new voucher students enroll in the program. However, analysis shows districts won’t likely be able to make up for this revenue loss and will instead face big problems every year.
“When Republican leaders voted to drastically increase tax subsidies for private schools in the 2015-17 budget, they promised opportunities for public school students wouldn’t suffer,” said Betsy Kippers, a Racine teacher and president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council. “It looks like our students have been double-crossed.
“Wisconsin has already fallen below the national average in public school funding and this proposal would take millions more from public school students to subsidize private school tuition,” she continued. “Meanwhile, 60 communities including Oshkosh, Portage and beyond are forced to go to referendum to make up for lost revenue. If Wisconsin is serious about improving schools, we must stop dumping more subsidies into a separate, failing school voucher system and instead invest in local public schools that provide opportunity to all students.”