NEWS: New Schools Show Interest in Milwaukee Voucher Program

From The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

More than 20 private schools around Milwaukee and Racine eligible for the expanded Milwaukee voucher program or new Racine voucher program are considering racing the clock to participate as soon as this fall.

As of Monday, eight schools in and around Milwaukee County and 14 schools in Racine had shown official interest in the programs, according to a list from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. But they could still change their minds, said Molly Koranda, school administration consultant for the DPI.

Leaders of those private schools face an Aug. 1 deadline to declare their intent to participate in the respective programs, which could provide them with a taxpayer-funded voucher worth up to $6,442 for each qualifying student.

Schools that wish to join the Milwaukee voucher program also must prove to the state by Aug. 1 that they are accredited or have obtained pre-accreditation, while schools that wish to join the Racine program have until Sept. 1 to submit their accreditation documentation, said Patrick Gasper, spokesman for the DPI.

The hustle comes on the heels of Gov. Scott Walker signing into law legislation that creates the Racine program and expands the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program by allowing private schools outside the city of Milwaukee to participate, dropping the cap on enrollment and raising the income limit for student eligibility to 300% of the federal poverty level, or $67,050 for a family of four.

Students must live in the city of Milwaukee to participate in the Milwaukee voucher program. But participating private schools, which used to have to be located in the city of Milwaukee, may now be located anywhere outside the city, even beyond the Milwaukee County suburbs. Gasper said that element was a change added by the Joint Finance Committee.

The Racine voucher program is open to students from the Racine Unified School District, but participating schools can be located in or outside of Racine. That program will be limited to 250 students participating this fall and 500 participants for the 2012-’13 school year, then an unlimited number of students after that.

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