Letter to the Editor - School Vouchers | WisCommunity

Letter to the Editor - School Vouchers

Original Author

Judy Foust

March 24, 2021 - 12:30pm

The School District of the Menomonie Area (SDMA) is rapidly falling financially behind due to the private school voucher system that is taking increasingly larger amounts of money directly off the top of our state aids. 

My three primary concerns are:

1.  Taxpayers are funding two school systems—one public and one private. 

2.  As this program continues to expand, the school district will be forced to raise property taxes, hold referenda, and/or cut programming and infrastructure expenditures each year to make up for the financial shortfalls. 

3. Wisconsin legislators have never debated or voted on funding private schools with our tax monies.

During the 2019-2020 school year SDMA lost $69,000.00 from our state aids to fund a private voucher school in Menomonie.  That amount rose to $182,600.00 this year and is projected to rise by another $70,000.00 the following year.  This money is taken directly off the top of the state funds our district was given.  What is “left over” comes to the public school system.

Besides providing money for a local private voucher school, a portion of our tax dollars also goes to the Wisconsin Choice (statewide voucher) program.  During the 2020-2021 school year, Menomonie’s public schools lost $351,718.00 to the state voucher program.

The Wisconsin Association of School Boards has gone on record as being against “the use of state or federal taxpayer dollars to subsidize non-public schools or non-public students/parents through a system of vouchers, scholarship tax credits, tuition tax credits, or deduction plans.”

At the February 22nd School Board meeting, Board member Jim Swanson brought forth a resolution based on the state school board association’s position.  His resolution was titled “Calling for Termination of Voucher School Funding from Public Education Funds.”  He asked the Board to support this resolution for the good of all the students and taxpayers within our public school realm.  When the vote was called, the resolution failed by a 5-4 vote.

My question is:  Why would elected officials, whose duty is to provide a strong public school system while prudently shepherding its financial health, not go on record to defend the School District of the Menomonie Area?

Perhaps you should contact those five Board members—David Styer, Charlie Schneider, Clint Moses, Tanya Husby, Penny Burstad--who seem to be in favor of giving great sums of money to the voucher system.  Ask them about their specific reasons for voting against what is a critical value in our country:  providing a strong public school education for all its children. 

 

Judy Foust    Colfax, WI  54730                                   

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