Boots & Sabers

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1253, 04 Feb 16

Proposed Change to Voucher Funding

This is a good idea, but take a closer look at the opposition to see why.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is proposing to reduce the amount of money public school districts can raise to offset the loss of state aid for private school vouchers.

The proposal could result in a $22 million loss for public schools under an early estimate, according to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.


When students enroll in another school district through open enrollment, most of the state’s funding for that student goes with the student to their new school district. That student’s home district is still able to count that student in their revenue limit calculation, however, allowing the home district to keep some state aid.

Beyer said the new proposal limits school districts’ “ability to raise property taxes for a student they are not actually educating, who would be in the choice program.”

Wisconsin Association of School Boards lobbyist Dan Rossmiller said public school districts’ revenue would be reduced by about $4,000 per student each year — resulting in multi-million dollar revenue losses for school districts with higher numbers of voucher students living in the district.

An analysis showed school districts’ revenue limit authority would be reduced by $22 million, affecting 142 school districts, according to a WASB memo.

In other words, as it stands now, school districts are collecting about $4,000 per voucher students who they don’t educate. In other words, that’s $4,000 per kid that the district gets and extends zero cost to educate those kids. It’s a pure “profit” stream (yes, it’s not really profit in a public school district, but it’s revenue collected without any cost) that these districts use to subsidize other spending.

In an ideal world, we would have a pure voucher system where every kid gets a voucher to spend at the qualified school of their choice. After all, the money is supposed to be for educating kids, so shouldn’t it go to whoever is providing that education? This proposal is nowhere near that, but it’s getting closer to that ideal.


1253, 04 February 2016


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