Parental Private School Choice Program (Racine)
- Enacted 2011
- Launched 2011
Racine, Wisconsin’s Parental Private School Choice 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.
We do not administer this program.
Participating Students (Fall 2020)
of Families with Children Income-eligible Districtwide
Participating Schools (Fall 2020)
Average Voucher Value (Fall 2020)
Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending
Wisconsin’s Parental Private School Choice Program (Racine) Participation
In 2020–21, the maximum voucher amount is $8,300 for grades K–8 and $8,946 for grades 9–12. Each school year, maximum voucher payments increase by the 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 ($57,640 for a family of four in 2020–21) may be charged additional tuition exceeding the voucher amount.
Students from families with household incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($78,600 for a family of four in 2020–21) 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 or home 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 event of an enrollment lottery.
EdChoice Expert Feedback
Wisconsin’s voucher for low-income students in Racine helps thousands of students access schools that are the right fit for them, but policymakers could do more to expand educational opportunity.
Eligibility for the scholarships is limited to students from families in Milwaukee earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($77,250 for a family of four in 2019–20). About 54 percent of Racine students are income-eligible to receive a scholarship. Statewide, 4.3 percent of students participate in one of Wisconsin’s private educational choice options (including the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the Statewide Parental Choice Program the Special Needs Scholarship Program, and the K-12 Private School Tuition Deduction). This is the third highest EdChoice share in the nation.
The average scholarship size is about $8,400, which is about 57 percent of the average expenditure per student at Wisconsin’s district schools.
In order to expand access to educational choice, Wisconsin policymakers should increase the voucher amounts to be comparable with the per-pupil spending at district schools and expand eligibility to all students. The program could also be converted into an education savings account to ensure that all students have access to the education that’s the right fit for them, whether private school or a customized course of education.
The Racine voucher program has some unnecessary and counterproductive regulations. For example, the program requires voucher students in certain grades to take the state’s standardized test. Instead of mandating a single test, policymakers should allow parents and schools to choose from a variety of nationally norm-referenced tests. Policymakers should also amend the program so that it no longer interferes with schools’ admissions standards.
Rules and Regulations
- Income Limit: 300 percent x Poverty
- Prior Year Public School Requirement: Conditional
- Geographic Limit: District (Racine Unified)
- Enrollment Cap: None
- Voucher Cap: $8,300 (K–8) / $8,946 (9–12)
- Testing Mandates: State
- Meet state nondiscrimination policies
- Meet health and safety codes
- Allow students to opt out of religious programs
- Administer state testing to scholarship recipients in third, fourth, eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th grade
- If not already accredited, receive accreditation within three years of participating in the program
- Submit to the state an annual financial audit conducted by a certified public accountant
- Provide evidence of sound fiscal practices and financial viability to the state
- School administrators must undergo financial training and have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education
- Teachers must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education, and teacher aides must have received a high school diploma or been granted a GED or HSED
- Administer background checks for all employees
- Provide 1,050 hours of direct pupil instruction in grades 1–6 and 1,137 hours of direct pupil instruction in grades 7–12
- Must provide the state with information about the academic program at the participating schools and student test score data
No legal challenges have been filed against the program.
Parental Private School Choice Program (Racine) State Groups
That Support School Choice
School Choice Wisconsin is an organization that works to empower parents by developing, supporting and promoting the ideas and policies that create vibrant, quality options in K–12 education in Wisconsin.