Public schools oppose Gov. Walker's voucher plan

By  | 

ALTOONA, Wisc. (WEAU) - A program Gov. Scott Walker said will give students more options has been criticized by public school supporters for taking away funding.

A voucher program would pay for students in under-performing schools to transfer to charter or private schools, taking away funding from public schools.

With his budget expected to be delivered Wednesday, Walker said part of it will include an expansion of a voucher program, where students in school districts with at least 4,000 students with at least two schools within that district with D or F ratings can get tuition from the state to attend an area private or charter school.

Altoona School superintendent Connie Biedron, along with many public school supporters said giving $73 million for voucher schools, compared to $129 million for public schools which have many more students, doesn't add up.

"Let's give public schools a fair chance. We've been cut, just mercilessly the last few years. Then we're going to be judged on how we're doing when our funds have been cut so radically," Biedron said.

Biedron said with many schools struggling and the chance of the program expanding to smaller schools in the future, losing that funding could have severe impacts.

"It comes to a point where you can't do more with less," she said.

With a referendum needed in many districts to keep programs alive, she said putting property tax money towards private schools makes things even more difficult.

"If you're going to take even more money from property taxes, not only for public schools, but for voucher schools, I could see why property owners would have a problem with that and should have a problem with that."

Currently the plan would only apply to nine school districts in the state, and would not be offered in Eau Claire or La Crosse. WEAU left messages with the governor's office, and did not get a reply.

State superintendent Tony Evers said he's "deeply disappointed and saddened" by the plan.