The Wisconsin program that allows children with special needs to attend private schools at taxpayer expense cost the state $5.6 million in “scholarships” in its first two years, and diverted $4.1 million in needed state aid away from 25 local public school districts, according to a new audit from the Legislative Audit Bureau. Milwaukee Public Schools alone lost more than $2.6 million in state aid because of the program.
In addition, an analysis of the report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the report “confirmed what many critics had feared: that it would serve primarily children already in private schools and leave children with the greatest needs to the public schools.”
The report points out that:
- Only about one-fourth of the 306 students who participated at some point during these two school years had attended a public school in the school year before participating, and most of the remaining students had attended private schools.
- Approximately three-fourths of participating students lived in the boundaries of Milwaukee Public Schools.
- In the 2017-18 school year, participating students attended 26 participating private schools and were from 25 resident school districts.
- The number of participating private schools increased from 24 in the 2016-17 school year to 26 in the 2017-18 school year.
- In the 2018-19 school year, 84 private schools intend to participate.
A Wisconsin program that allows special needs students to attend private schools on taxpayer-funded vouchers cost local public schools almost $5.6 million in state funding over the last two years, including hundreds of districts where no residents participated in the program, according to a new state audit and related documents.
Read the entire audit report: