Vouchers: Some Things For School Leaders to Note

How Might the Statewide Voucher Program Impact the General Aid Distribution?

For the first time, this year’s July 1 General Aid estimates will reflect that students who reside within a school district but enroll  in a private school participating in the statewide voucher program in 2015-16 are counted by their district of residence for aid purposes.  For districts with relatively more voucher students residing within their boundaries, this will likely reduce their equalized property value per pupil, which could entitle them to more state aid under the equalization formula, while other districts may receive less aid. Because the Racine voucher program operates the same way, similar impacts will be seen from enrollment in that program, too.   It remains to be seen how large the re-distributive effect will be.

How Does the District Enrollment Cap Work under the Statewide Voucher Program?

The total number of pupils residing in the district who may participate in the statewide voucher program from each district in any year is currently limited to no more than 1 percent of the district’s prior year membership. This enrollment limit will remain at 1 percent for the 2016-17 school year but will increase by one percentage point in each year beginning in 2017-18 until the enrollment limit reaches 10 percent of the district’s prior year enrollment. In the year following and thereafter, no enrollment limit would apply.

What are the Qualifications a Student Must Meet to Participate in the Statewide Voucher Program?

A student qualifies for the statewide voucher program on the basis of their residency and their family income, if applicable. Students must reside in a Wisconsin school district, other than in the city of Milwaukee and the Racine Unified School District. Additionally, pupils in the statewide voucher program  must meet at least one of the prior year school attendance requirements: (1) been enrolled in a public school in Wisconsin in the 2015-16 school year, (2) have not been enrolled in school in the 2015-16 school year, (3) be applying for kindergarten, first or ninth grade at the private school in the 2016-17 school year or (4) participated in the statewide voucher program  in the 2015-16 school year.

For the 2016-17 school year, a new statewide voucher student must have a family income at or below the amount listed in the Table below, which is 185 percent of the federal poverty level, adjusted for family size. Students who participated in the WPCP in 2015-16 or were on the DPI’s waiting list in 2015-16 are not required to prove that they are income eligible. Family income includes the income of the child’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) that reside in the same household as the student applicant. If the child’s parents/legal guardians are married their income is reduced by $7,000 when determining income eligibility for the program. (Family size includes parents/guardians and their children by birth, marriage or adoption that reside in the same household as the student applicant.)

185 Percent of the Federal Poverty Level for 2016-17

 Family Size           Yearly Income

1                      $21,971
2                      $29,735
3                      $37,499
4                      $45,263
5                      $53,027
6                      $60,791

 For each additional member add $7,764