Allowing parents to choose the best education for their children continues to grow in popularity. Enrollment in each of the state’s four private school choice programs is up, according to the latest figures released by the Department of Public Instruction. Each program added more students and schools for the 2017-2018 school year.

“Parental demand continues to drive the expansion of school choice in Wisconsin,” Jim Bender, President of School Choice Wisconsin said. “After two years of a 1 percent  district enrollment cap on the statewide program, the increase to 2 percent this fall has given the program room to grow.”

Growth in each of Wisconsin’s private school choice (voucher) programs. (Graphic by RightWisconsin.)

Enrollment in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program was capped at 1 percent of the local public school district’s enrollment. Beginning with this year, the cap is now 2 percent and will grow by 1 percent until the enrollment limit reaches 10 percent. At that point the enrollment cap will be lifted.

The program has grown from 25 schools and 511 students to 154 schools and 4,540 students since the program was introduced in the 2013-14 school year.

To be eligible for the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program this year, the family income of a student must be at 185 percent of the federal poverty level or lower at the time of enrollment. The state legislature recently increased the income limit to 220 percent of the federal poverty level as part of the state budget starting in the 2018-19 school year.

The Racine Parental Choice Program and the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program do not have enrollment limits. The income limit for a choice student’s family in those programs is 300 percent of the federal poverty line. The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program was started in 1990 with seven schools and 337 students. The Racine Parental Choice Program program started in the 2011-12 school year and started with eight schools and 228 students.

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