Private schools decide whether to join voucher program - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Private schools decide whether to join voucher program

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

Big changes could be coming to some school districts in our area.

Private schools are deciding whether to join the statewide school voucher program. The voucher program was part of Governor Scott Walker's state budget. It allows public school students to attend private schools using taxpayer dollars. That means some students in our area could leave public schools as early as this fall.

On Tuesday, Newman Catholic Schools hosted an informational event for educators from across north central Wisconsin. It was put on by the Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools.

"We have a very short window to get schools and get parents interested in participating enrolled," said Matt Kussow, WCRIS Director.

If a school decides to take part in the voucher program it would have to meet numerous state requirements, including a registration fee. Starting this fall, 25 new private schools from across the state will be accepted. Education officials say the more students who apply to a certain school, the better chance it has to be involved.

"We strongly believe that this program will raise the bar for all schools who are educating kids in Wisconsin, not just the private schools but the public schools as well," Kussow said.

But not all school leaders are convinced the program is right for them.

"I'll be going back and consulting with my pastors about their position on should Newman Catholic become a voucher school," Newman Catholic Schools President Jan Klosinski said. "We have to look and see if it's right and answer our original question, does this fit in with our mission."

But private school educators from Assumption Catholic Schools in Wisconsin Rapids say it will benefit parents and students.

"If selected this offers us some wonderful options for our families and for our schools and may well help us to survive much longer into the future," President Joan Bond said.

It is no guarantee that any of the private schools in our area could be chosen, but education leaders say, at most, a handful of students could qualify for vouchers this fall.

Schools have until July 26th to submit applications to be a voucher school. If selected, the program would start this fall.

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