Wisconsin enacted and launched the Parental Private School Choice Program in Racine in 2011. The program offers private school vouchers to Racine families who meet certain income restrictions. Continue reading this page for more program details, including funding, eligibility, regulations, and more.
Lower-income Racine parents are eligible to receive vouchers to send their children to the private schools of their choice.
In 2015–16, the maximum voucher amount is $7,214 for grades K–8 and $7,860 for grades 9–12. Each school year, maximum voucher payments increase by a dollar amount equal to the dollar amount increase in general school aid to Wisconsin public schools. Parents of students in grades 9–12 that have an income greater than 220 percent of the federal poverty level ($53,350 for a family of four in 2015–16) may be charged additional tuition above the voucher amount.
Students from families with household incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($72,750 for a family of four in 2015–16) are eligible for vouchers; moreover, a family’s income limit eligibility increases by $7,000 if the student’s parents or legal guardians are married. Students who are continuing the program from previous years and those who were on a school’s waiting list in the prior year because the school did not have space available do not need to demonstrate income eligibility. Students must have been either (1) enrolled in a public school in the previous year, (2) not enrolled in school in the previous year, (3) enrolled in a private school under the voucher program in the previous year, or (4) be entering kindergarten, first grade, or ninth grade. If an applying student has a sibling already in the private school the applicant wishes to attend, he or she will receive preference in the voucher lottery.
Eligibility in Racine’s school voucher program is relatively restrictive. On regulations, the program also has room for growth: Schools must adopt academic standards (which cannot include mandatory religion classes), provide specific yearly hours of instruction, hire teachers with college degrees, admit voucher students randomly, and meet accountability requirements. With the program’s enrollment cap now removed, Wisconsin also should consider removing the arbitrary income limits placed on families and the regulations imposed on schools.
No legal challenges have been filed against the program.