UPDATE: 48 schools register for Wis. voucher program

UPDATED Wednesday, July 31, 2013 --- 2:06 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Forty eight private and religious schools currently operating in 39 Wisconsin communities have registered to be a part of the state's newly expanded voucher program.

The state Department of Public Instruction released the list of the interested schools on Wednesday.

The most interest came from Green Bay, with six schools there registering. The second highest interest came from Sheboygan, where four schools registered.

No more than 500 students can be in the program next year. Only the 25 schools that receive the most applicants can participate.

Parents who wish to enroll their children in the program can submit applications online starting Thursday through 4 p.m. on Aug. 9.

To participate, family incomes must be less than 185 percent of the federal poverty rate.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


UPDATED Wednesday, July 17, 2013 --- 12:50 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- No private school has yet submitted a formal application to participate in Wisconsin's newly expanded voucher program.

The application deadline is July 26. Department of Public instruction spokesman Patrick Gasper said Wednesday no applications are expected to be filed until later next week, close to the deadline.

The department will process the applications and release the names of schools that meet the criteria on July 31.

No more than 500 students can be in the program next year. Only the 25 schools that receive the most applicants can participate.

Another reason for the lack of applications to date is that all interested schools are required to participate in two full days of training. Gasper says those sessions began last week and are continuing this week and next.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

UPDATED: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 --- 6:35pm

It may be the beginning of July, but some Wisconsin schools are already focused on next year.

Last week, Governor Walker signed the state's budget, expanding Wisconsin's private school voucher program statewide. It's a big change happening in a small amount of time.

"You potentially have to go through a lot of work in a short period of time and you're still not guaranteed you're going to get into the program” says Jim Bender of School Choice Wisconsin.

The voucher program allows low-income families to use taxpayer money to send their kids to private school.

Madison's Abundant Life Christian School won't be applying to take part...at least not this year.

"Maybe in a year or two the voucher system will be an ideal fit for our school” says the school's Director of Communications Barbara Wiers.

And Abundant Life isn't alone. Several other area private schools tell NBC 15 they're gonna sit on the sidelines, see how the program plays out the first year, and maybe apply in the future.

Schools say the reason to wait isn't because of a lack of interest, but rather the tedious application process. Prospective schools will have to fill out a number of paperwork, be accredited, and pay a fee to apply, among other things.

It's a lengthy process for a slim chance of getting in. The first year is capped at 500 students. And only 25 schools with the most qualifying applications will get to take part.

"What will the impact be on Madison? That'll depend on Madison schools if they get in, if they'll be a part of the top 25” says Bender.

Still, supporters are optimistic about the program's future.

"If there's a lot of parental demand, the legislature will react. That'll be the determining factor for what happens in the next five years” Bender says.

Private schools will have until July 26 to apply for the voucher program. Parents and students will then have the following week to apply.


Posted: Thursday, July 4, 2013 --- 8:20 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker says future expansion of a new statewide voucher program should be based on whether students perform at least as well at voucher schools than they did in public school.

A Wisconsin State Journal report (http://bit.ly/14QMS0R ) says the issue is accountability. Democrats have been skeptical that Republicans will do enough to hold private voucher schools accountable.

Republican state Sen. Luther Olsen of Ripon chairs the Senate Education Committee. He says work on an accountability bill is wrapping up, and he hopes it will begin circulating for sponsors in the next few weeks.

Olsen says the bill would apply the state's report-card system for public schools to voucher schools as well.

But Democrats say they're not convinced the GOP's talk about accountability will translate into real action.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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