October 24, 2014

Ellis wants local control of school choice expansion

Governor Scott Walker says he’s considering expanding the state’s school choice program but a Republican leader wants people in local school districts to be able to weigh in on the idea.

State Senate President Mike Ellis says he’ll introduce a bill that requires anyone wanting to start the voucher option in a school district to circulate a petition and if they get enough signatures, it would trigger a referendum. 

“Anything short of that is not only undemocratic, but it’s backroom politics at its worst,” says the Neenah Republican.

Ellis also says he won’t allow a vote on any expansion of the voucher program without those protections.

The school choice program, currently in Milwaukee and Racine, uses public money for students to attend private schools. Ellis says expansion of the program would lead to local property taxes going up to compensate for the loss.

Proponents of school vouchers say it allows students in underperforming schools the option to receive a better education elsewhere.

Mike Kemmeter-WHBY contributed to this report