School officials speak out on statewide voucher program - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

School officials speak out on statewide voucher program

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STEVENS POINT (WAOW) -

A statewide school voucher program is now in motion.

That program allows public school students to attend private schools with taxpayer's money.

A total of 25 schools statewide have been selected to participate in the program. Five of those schools are in central Wisconsin.

"We were one of the 48 schools that made it into the big poll, and then once it hit over 500 applicants it was going to be the top 25 schools, we were one of those top 25, actually number six," said Todd Kuckkahn, president of the Stevens Point Area Catholic Schools.

He says this new program gives private schools new opportunities.

"It's an opportunity for families to take part in our mission in Stevens Point Area Catholic Schools and with the voucher program specifically, it gives parents a choice about where they want to send their son or daughter and maybe can't afford it," Kuckkahn said.

But public school officials say this new voucher program hurts their schools.

"Anytime a public school looses a student it has a very specific impact on the amount of state aid that you get, because as people familiar with state aid formulas know that is determined by the number of full time students," said Jon Vollendorf, principal of P.J. Jacobs Middle School in Stevens Point.

These school vouchers were only available in a few areas throughout Wisconsin until Gov. Scott Walker proposed expanding the program statewide.

The legislature then approved that proposal.

"I think it's something that in places like this where we're waiting to see what happens, that we want to be aware of it and continually be very sensitive to the needs that our students and our families have," Vollendorf added.

Just 500 students will be allowed in the voucher program this year. More than 2,400 students have applied.

A random lottery will determine which students will be included in the voucher program.

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