Republican leadership in the Wisconsin legislature appears close to consensus on expanding school choice. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that limited expansion of private school vouchers would be linked to providing additional per-student funding for public schools.
“We are still talking,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) wrote in a text message. “There is no final deal. It’s just negotiations like normal.” That was echoed in a statement from a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. “There is no final deal that has been reached yet, but we continue to have positive ongoing discussions.”
Governor Scott Walker said Wednesday that he continues to work with GOP leadership, particularly Senate President Mike Ellis of Neenah, on a plan to expand school choice to 9 additional districts beyond Milwaukee and Racine.
According to the Journal Sentinel, the deal would give public schools an extra $150 per student in state aid for each of the next two years. A tax-funded private school voucher program to offer low-income students an alternative to public schools would go statewide, but limits would be in place. Only up to one-percent of a district’s students can be in a voucher program, and state aid for those students would not increase as much as Walker had proposed.
In addition, private schools would have to be in business for two years before accepting voucher students – and it would not include Walker’s plan to provide vouchers for students with special needs.