The Joint Finance Committee wrapped up its work on the state budget last night. As part of that final session, the GOP JFC members approved a significant expansion of special needs vouchers as well as a final wrap up motion that included a provision on special needs open enrollment payments (see below).
The budget now heads to the Assembly for a floor vote on Wednesday, Sept. 13 with a Senate vote expected soon afterwards. After an identical version passes both houses, Gov. Scott Walker has the opportunity to use his powerful veto pen to make final modifications. The Legislature has the power to override any veto with a two-thirds majority vote by both houses. Continue reading Budget Committee Wraps Up Budget Work
The state’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee voted along party lines 12-4 on a GOP motion to expand the Special Needs Scholarship Program (SNSP) as part of the state budget bill. This program provides vouchers to enable students with disabilities to attend participating private schools with no income eligibility limits. Governor Walker did not propose expanding the program in his budget proposal. The following proposals adopted today (Sept. 6), and described below, are estimated to expand special needs voucher program participation by 250 pupils in 2018-19 and result in an over $3 million aid reduction to public school districts in 2018-19: Continue reading JFC Approves Special Needs Voucher Expansion
A potentially significant change to the way amounts transferred for the open enrollment of special education pupils and the aid deduction for special needs voucher pupils are calculated has been proposed and is scheduled for discussion and a possible vote by the JFC next Tuesday (Sept. 5).
We had previously shared language with you that was included in the Assembly GOP Education Package released in June. We assume the changes allegedly being sought are similar in nature: Continue reading Budget Committee to Act on Special Needs Vouchers/Open Enrollment on Sept. 5
With the 2017-19 state budget now more than a month and a half overdue, increasing attention is being paid to the impact the delayed passage of the budget will have on schools, as evidenced by this Wisconsin State Journal article.
In a recent memo to members of the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC), the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has outlined the impact of the delay on various state school finance calculations for the 2017-18 school year, for public school districts, as well as private choice schools and independent charter schools.
Continue reading How Delayed State Budget May Impact School Districts
After a period of relative quiet, voucher proponents have been active, pushing variety of proposals that appear to have made it into the package of K-12 education items agreed upon by the Senate and Assembly, as reflected in the Legislative Fiscal Bureau summary of the Senate Republican budget plan.
Here are some of the key provisions affecting voucher schools:
Statewide Voucher Program–Income Eligibility Limit: Increase the annual family income eligibility level, beginning in the 2018-19 school year, so that a pupil could participate in the statewide voucher program with a family income of less than 220 percent of the federal poverty level rather than less than 185 percent of FPL as under current law. (It is estimated that an additional 550 pupils could enter the statewide voucher program in 2018-19 as a result of this change.)
Continue reading Voucher Provisions in State Senate Republicans’ Budget Plan
The 2015-17 state budget (2015 Wisconsin Act 55) created the Special Needs Scholarship Program, which will begin in the 2016-17 school year. This program provides vouchers for students with a disability to attend a qualifying private school provided the student has applied for open enrollment into one or more public school districts other than their resident school district and has been denied by all non-resident districts to which he or she applied.
The deadline for private schools to register with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to participate in the special needs voucher program in the 2016-17 school year was June 1, 2016. Today, the DPI released the list of 28 schools that applied to participate in the program, along with each school’s special education profile.
Continue reading DPI: 28 Private Schools Apply to Participate in Special Needs Vouchers
Last night the state Senate wrapped up its work for the two-year 2015-2016 session by passing over 85 items, including:
- Senate Bill 615, a bill affecting the special needs voucher program. The bill had previously passed the Senate but had to come back for a vote on an amendment added to this bill by the state Assembly. That amendment reduces the amount of local property tax revenue public school districts can raise to offset the state aid they lose when students who reside in the district participate in the statewide voucher program. Under the amendment, school districts with resident pupils who participate in either the statewide or Racine voucher programs may raise an equal to the amount of state aid they lose to private school vouchers. Senators approved the amendment on a 19-13 party line vote.
Continue reading Senate Finishes Session by Passing Voucher Funding Adjustment Bill, Among Others