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Gov. Walker proposes school voucher expansion; fellow GOP'ers unhappy


GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - If the governor has his way, up to nine more Wisconsin school districts could have low-income students going to private schools at taxpayers’ expense.

Republican Scott Walker gave details of his school voucher plans to the Associated Press Sunday, before he planned to make a full public announcement Monday.

Under the governor’s proposed budget, the voucher program would be allowed in districts with over 4,000 students. And at least two buildings in those districts must have grades of “D” or “F” in the state report cards that began last year.

For years, the voucher program operated only in Milwaukee. Two years ago, it expanded to the Milwaukee County suburbs and Racine.

Now, under Walker’s plan, the Green Bay and Madison districts could qualify – along with Fond du Lac, Beloit, Kenosha, Sheboygan, Superior, West-Allis-West Milwaukee, and Waukesha.

Not all of Walker’s fellow Republicans in the Legislature support such an expansion.

Senate President Mike Ellis of Neenah says it’s wrong for an entire school district to qualify for private school vouchers if it has just a couple of failing schools. He said it’s possible that students from non-failing schools could take slots intended for low-income youngsters. And both Ellis and GOP Senate Education chair Luther Olsen said they would oppose any expansion, unless residents in the affected districts agree to it in a referendum.

Many in the public schools say the voucher program takes away too many students and their state aid – while Republicans say it gives poor children a better chance to succeed in life.