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Evers: little-known amendment could expand school voucher program

MADISON, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)  State public school Superintendent Tony Evers is upset about a little-noticed budget amendment added by the Assembly. He says it could expand the private school choice program a lot more than we’ve been told. The amendment would let private schools that are already participating in the Milwaukee and Racine programs take low-income students from anywhere in the state, without counting toward their enrollment caps.

Evers and Democratic voucher opponents say it could lead to the Milwaukee and Racine districts setting up satellite schools throughout Wisconsin, thus negating any enrollment limits. In Evers’ words, “That would make a separate system of publicly-funded private schools.” Voucher supporters did not believe it would happen. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau said Evers could decide whether each proposed satellite school would be subject to the enrollment limits. But the way the language is written, Evers believes he would have no choice but to approve them. He says his agency’s lawyers are looking into it.

School choice lobbyists said they had nothing to do with the measure. The voucher program would be expanded statewide on a limited basis. It’s listed as having enrollment limits of 500 students outside of Milwaukee and Racine next fall, and a thousand students the next year.