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Public Schools Concerned Voucher Change Could Cut Another $14M

Assembly Considers Amendment To Prevent Property Tax Increase

frankjuarez (CC-BY)

A controversial school funding bill that Wisconsin public schools are saying could cost millions of dollars is set to go before the state Legislature this week.

The controversy was spurred when Assembly Speaker Rob Vos added an amendment to a school voucher bill last week. Under the plan, the state would reduce the amount of money that school districts can raise through property taxes to offset state cuts. This year, the state began cutting aid to public schools to pay for its expanded voucher system.

Vos said the plan fixes a “drafting error” in the original voucher expansion legislation.

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“This is a really good idea to smooth out the ability to make sure that we fund all kids fairly, but don’t put the burden on the property taxpayer,” said Vos.

School administrators said the amendment would cost public schools about $14 million in its first year, and lead to cuts.

Brenda Warren, the school board president for the Green Bay Area Public School District, said the amendment, if passed, would cost her district about $1 million.

“It feels like there’s this underlying, continued effort to make it more and more difficult to educate students in the public education environment,” said Warren.

The bill is scheduled to go before the state Assembly on Tuesday.