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Vicki Burke: Voucher program is unfair

On Feb 1, 2018, open enrollment for the school voucher program begins. The voucher program (Parental Choice Program) takes money from the public school in which the applying student lives and gives it to a private school.

For example, at Aquinas High School voucher students attend tuition-free. In the current 2017-18 school year private schools received a voucher payment of between $7,530 and $8,176 per voucher student. According to a news report by WKBT on Oct. 24, 2017, “Fifteen percent of the total student population, or 142 students, are enrolled, compared to 109 students” in the 2016-17 school year.

This report also indicated that, “There is a 2 percent enrollment cap for the Parental Choice Program in any given district. In the School District of La Crosse, the cap is 135 students. Currently, there are about 80 students in the district enrolled in the program.” This means the La Crosse School District loses almost $700,000 through this voucher program. Also it reported that, “The 2 percent cap is up from last year and will increase by 1 percent every school year until 2026, when it will be eliminated.”

Why is this unfair? As a teacher for 35 years, 32 of them in the La Crosse School District, I know it does not take the same amount of money to educate each student. Students with exceptional needs often cost more to educate. The public school has no choice, but must educate all. The private schools may reject students. In the voucher program it is the private school that has the choice, not the parents.

Vicki Burke, Onalaska

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