DPI: Nearly 70 Private Schools Registered for Voucher Program
For the City-Times
Sixty-eight private nonsectarian and religious schools and school systems registered with the Department of Public Instruction by the Feb. 1 deadline to accept students for the 2014-15 school year through the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP). Schools registering for the statewide choice program include the 25 continuing from the 2013-14 school year and 43 new private schools applying to participate. The list of schools includes 13 that participated in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) or the Racine Parental Choice Program (RPCP) during the 2012-13 school year.
The Wisconsin Parental Choice Program allows new students whose family income is at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level and who reside outside of the Milwaukee and Racine Unified school districts to use a taxpayer-funded voucher to attend participating private or religious schools. Income limits for 2014-15 are $44,177 for a family of four, with a $7,000 increase ($51,177) allowed for married parents with two children. Eligible students in grades kindergarten through eight may attend the private school with no charge for tuition.
Eligible students continuing in grades nine through 12 may be charged tuition if their family income exceeds 220 percent of the federal poverty level ($52,533 for a family of four, or $59,533 for married parents with two children). The private school, on behalf of each student’s parent or guardian, receives a state aid payment of $7,210 (for pupils in grades K-8) or $7,856 (for pupils in grades 9-12) for each eligible choice student. A private choice school is not required to provide transportation to choice students. According to state law, the resident public school district may be required to provide transportation under certain circumstances.
More information is available at http://sms.dpi.wi.gov/sms_trprvgen.
Parents who wish to enroll their children in a private or religious school participating in the statewide voucher program for the 2014-15 school year must complete the online application between Feb. 1 and April 21, 2014, on the following web site: http://sms.dpi.wi.gov/wpcp-statewide. After completing the online application, parents must provide residency and income documentation to the school(s) they apply to before the close of the application period at 4 p.m. on April 21.
For the 2014-15 school year, the program is limited by state law to 1,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) pupils statewide, up from 500 FTE during the 2013-14 school year. The 25 continuing schools that participated in the WPCP in the 2013-14 school year will be allocated the same number of pupil slots in the 2014-15 school year. If more than 1,000 students apply to participate in the program, only the 25 schools with the most applicants are eligible to receive the remaining 500 seats. Each of the 25 schools will be allocated 10 seats for choice students by random selection with preference given to siblings. If the 1,000 application threshold is met, the 13 schools that participated in the Milwaukee or Racine voucher programs in the 2012-13 school year will be ineligible. Procedures that include a random selection process will be used to accept students to the program.
Prior to being eligible to receive voucher payments from the state, schools must, by May 1, submit information regarding their fiscal practices, budget, hours of instruction, and certain school policies. They must also submit, by Aug. 1, documentation of their insurance and certificate of occupancy.