Madison private school among 25 joining voucher program this fall

2013-08-16T05:30:00Z Madison private school among 25 joining voucher program this fallMATTHEW DeFOUR | Wisconsin State Journal | | 608-252-6144

Madison’s Lighthouse Christian School is one of 64 additional private schools in Wisconsin that can enroll students this fall using taxpayer-funded vouchers, the Department of Public Instruction announced Thursday.

The West Side school, at 5202 Regent St., had 31 eligible applicants, ranking it 25th among the schools or school systems that signed up last month for an expansion of the program.

There were 2,415 eligible applicants for the program, including 2,069 who applied to the top 25 schools or systems. Because more than the limit of 500 students applied, state law limits the program to the 25 schools or systems with the most applicants.

Of the students who signed up for the eligible schools, a quarter attended public schools in Wisconsin last year, DPI said in a news release. Two-thirds were already enrolled in private schools. The others were home-schooled, not in school or living in other states.

Voucher advocates touted the numbers as evidence of the popularity of the program and called for the state to lift the cap, which next year goes up to 1,000 students.

But opponents said the large number of private school students who applied proved the program was a subsidy for private schools.

“Expanding the private school voucher program was designed to subsidize families that have made the decision to educate their children in private schools,” Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Cross Plains, said.

School Choice Wisconsin president Jim Bender said the short application timeline meant private schools looked to their own students to ensure they had enough applicants to qualify.

“We anticipate the applications to increase significantly in the second year of the program,” Bender said. “As we have seen in Milwaukee and Racine, the more parents learn about the program, the more demand there is for available seats.”

The voucher program began more than 20 years ago in Milwaukee and expanded to Racine in 2011. Those programs are continuing. Voucher students next year will receive up to $6,442 from the state to cover tuition at a private school. The amount goes up to $7,210 for elementary schools and $7,856 for high schools in


The total cost of the expanded program outside Milwaukee and Racine is expected to be $10.5 million over the next two years.

Ninety schools constituting 48 applicants registered for the expansion. The 64 selected Thursday pared the number of new schools and systems participating in the program to 25.

Green Bay and DePere, with four Catholic systems that include 10 schools, had the most applicants with 318. Oshkosh was next with 208 applicants at a three-school Catholic system and a Christian school, followed by Kenosha with 195 at a three-school Catholic system and a Lutheran school.

Other communities with eligible schools include Appleton, Altoona, Beloit, Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Janesville, La Crosse, Manitowoc, Marshfield, Onalaska, Plover, Plymouth, Rothschild, Sheboygan, Stevens Point, Wausau and Wisconsin Rapids.

The 26 schools that didn’t make the cut include Westside Christian in Middleton and others in Bloomer, Brookfield, Butler, Cedarburg, Columbus, Fox Point, Franklin, Freedom, Green Bay, Mayville, Milwaukee, New London, Rhinelander, Sheboygan, Stratford, Waukesha and

West Allis.

Of the 64 schools that are in, 55 are Catholic, four are Lutheran and five are other types of Christian schools.

Each of the 25 schools or systems is guaranteed 10 students with the other 250 spots being determined by lottery next week. Public school students will not have a preference in the lottery, though Republican leaders said they want to change that for next year’s process.

The total number of families that signed up from Aug. 1-9 was higher than the final number. Lighthouse Christian originally reported 46 applicants and Westside Christian reported 12, but the total number of eligible applicants for the two Dane County schools was 36.

DPI spokesman Patrick Gasper said some applications were rejected because it was determined family income exceeded the 185 percent of poverty threshold. Others were not Wisconsin residents, had incomplete applications or the school failed to verify the application before the deadline.

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(45) Comments

  1. Akklia
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    Akklia - August 19, 2013 12:20 pm
    No, religious private schools merely do not teach birth control. They seek to increase the numbers of their religious followers the oldest way possible: Inculcate the children, don't teach them birth control or family planning...then blame it all on the women folk for being to attractive for their own good or something.

    It is the will of their version of god to increase the fold any way possible, Right? LOL

    All I see is more unwanted children and more food stamps going out to the single parents this culture truly supports, although it talks big about how nasty it is that people actually get help when they need it for things like food and energy..the married nuclear family is no longer supported. Ask me how I know...and the well intentioned religions lead the way, with hymns and bible verses, to continuing the hell on earth they so desperately wish to escape in the after life...

    Yes. This is what I see of state monies going to support religious schools.

    The best bang for the buck, in my book, is the Public Schools, yet, my Elders and Peers have deserted them, and, the children they once so proudly served. Why is this?

    Yes. Once upon a time, the Human Citizen of the United States of America were once actually proud their country had Public Schools for their children.
  2. Akklia
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    Akklia - August 19, 2013 12:12 pm
    Well, then, why is the school district for my child gerrymandered so that the school serves a population of 72% brown and black children? And, why was our little neighborhood chunked out of the district for a school 1.2 miles away all so very affluent kids can have their own private public school...they are about three miles away...and...we get to go to a Title 1 school 2.1 miles away...oh kid'd assigned school is deliberately districted along the lines of race...and...yes, we are told we are going to a school for disadvantaged people when we are registering!!! Incidentally, this school has already been targeted by Scott Walker as the school he wishes to remove further funding from...not so the affluent kid's private public school we could walk to... So, somebody is more than willing to provide only SOME kids in Wisconsin a decent education...and that is based upon the perceived socio-economic value of the dwellings a district serves.

    School choice in my neck of the woods involves simply this: Move to another school district if you want to get your kid out of the Title 1 school, because my guess is, our assigned school isn't letting any kid go that could possibly raise their test scores...
  3. Akklia
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    Akklia - August 19, 2013 12:04 pm
    And, the rejection letter I got from one school was incredibly rude...they blamed their rejection on my child...of course, I called them on it...I actually happen to be involved in my kid's life, they were wrong for us, not us for them.

    Got an entirely different rejection letter in I actually could read to my kid without it slicing the soul'm keeping mum on the school, hoping my sticking up for my kid stuck up for all the less affluent children whose parents hope to get them in to a school that charges ~$14995 a year to edumacate those they pick and choose to edumacate...for Kindergarten! (Financial Aid is available, of course, most people I know, us included, do not income qualify for the vouchers.)
  4. Akklia
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    Akklia - August 19, 2013 12:00 pm
    This grosses me out. We are supporting private religious schools with income tax.
    Why? The majority of the schools supported with the Vouchers, as it is, right now, are from religions that ACTIVELY DISCOURAGE BIRTH CONTROL and seek to increase their numbers by repressing the women folk into thoughtless breeding machines, unable to control themselves from spreading their legs to the first high school fellow that looks at them...

    BWaaHaaa Haaaa....but I guess Mary was a single mom until Joseph swooped in to rescue her....after the Lord appeared to him and told him, dude, I say unto you, you forgot to use your condom, so take care of your baby....oh wait...I think I got that wrong...that would make a biological father responsible to parent his offspring, too...oh lord, I digress...
  5. ArchieBunkersKidBrother
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    ArchieBunkersKidBrother - August 18, 2013 9:13 pm
    Yes they are.
  6. ArchieBunkersKidBrother
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    ArchieBunkersKidBrother - August 18, 2013 9:13 pm
    A family making $70K a year gets a voucher for private school, but a family at the poverty line plus a dollar gets no help with BadgerCare.
  7. ArchieBunkersKidBrother
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    ArchieBunkersKidBrother - August 18, 2013 9:10 pm
    The world is only 6,000 years old. Fossils were put here by Satan to fool us. Noah gathered up 2 of every animal on the planet and put them all on a boat. That's Creationism in a nutshell.
  8. ArchieBunkersKidBrother
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    ArchieBunkersKidBrother - August 18, 2013 9:03 pm
    Gotch,. you sure are the joker.
  9. FearorLove
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    FearorLove - August 18, 2013 1:37 am
    This lottery biased system makes me sick. This system is so screwed up and unequal to every one.

    Think about the majority of students who go to public schools mainly the ones whos parents make less than 185% of the poverty limit. They are getting screwed by our state big time. What ever happened to equal schools? Its like were dividing our childeren, rich schools and poor schools. Whats different from this than dividing schools for black and white kids or male and female kids. Are we not all equal, guess not because we sure are not being treated like equals in our schools.

    ;and yes, different schools do provide better or worse education to the same student. In this case voucher/non-voucher schools. A lottery system were the winner gets to be segragated to recieve a better or worse education than others. "Divide and Conqour" poor kids.
  10. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - August 17, 2013 7:13 pm
    Look, I already knew school vouchers were a cynical scam meant to defund public education and (like many things in Fitzwalkerstan) funnel taxpayer dollars to campaign contributors.

    But this week, we found out it's even more of a money shuffle than we thought, with the funds going into fewer and fewer hands, and the concept of "school choice" being shown to be a total lie.

    The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction broke down more than 2,000 of the applicants who wanted to go to 25 of these voucher schools, and it turns out that the vast majority of these kids aren't coming from public schools.

    The top 25 schools had 2,069 eligible students apply to be in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program. Of those students, 76 percent (1,566) did not attend a Wisconsin public school last year, and 24 percent (503) were from public schools. Of the 2,069 eligible students, 67 percent (1,393) attended a private school last year.

    The Wisconsin Parental Choice Program is limited to 500 students for the 2013-14 school year. State law requires the department to conduct a random drawing of eligible student applications and allocate 10 seats to each of the 25 schools and then fill the remaining 250 seats randomly. The random selection of student applications will be conducted by computer next week.

    Even worse, the voucher system passed by WisGOP and backed by Walker did not give precedence to students who were trying to move from public schools to private schools. So what this means is that it is likely a majority of families getting funds to send their kids to private schools were already sending their kids to private schools!

    Which makes the voucher payment nothing more than a WELFARE PAYMENT to those parents, and a TAXPAYER-FUNDED PAYOFF to the schools who have worked just fine without the government cheese.

    And by the way, it is extremely likely that those funds will be going to churches and other religious organizations, as every one of the top 25 schools that students applied to are Christian-affiliated (and 20 of the 25 are Catholic).

    So my taxpayer dollars are now paying mostly Catholic schools to educate kids that they were going to educate anyway (which means the funds could conceivably be used elsewhere in the Church). That's a reassuring thought.

    Read it here:
    Report Abuse
    GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN - August 16, 2013 7:03 pm

    Bless you, buddy.

    The point is that we pay for all education, both public AND private schools.

    The voucher plan directly helps those who need the help the most.

    Why should a student have to walk the gang gauntlet just to get to class?\

    Address the facts, if you care to discuss this issue using linear thinking. Don't just attack the messenger. I know it's hard for you, but, change is coming like it or not.


    Good Dog, Happy Man.

  12. array1
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    array1 - August 16, 2013 5:49 pm
    Apparently someone here forgot to get off the Mayflower. No worries, Obamacare will still take you.
  13. WinnerWinner
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    WinnerWinner - August 16, 2013 5:05 pm
    Separation of church and state? Surely you jest.

    Your tax money pays for Medicare patients to be treated at Catholic hospitals.

    Your tax money pays for elderly Medicaid patients to live out their golden years in Lutheran nursing homes.

    And education? Your tax money subsidizes Pell grants for students attending Mormon and Baptist universities. (So: Subsidizing a religious secondary education is bad, but subsidizing a religious post-secondary education is OK. Got it. #liberallogic)

    Spare me the separation of church and state bit. The country was founded on Christianity. Don't think so? Point out a Commandment that wasn't law in the time of the founding. Blue laws? Religious in nature.

    Deny it all you want: There is no separation of church and state.
  14. TheRestOfTheStory
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    TheRestOfTheStory - August 16, 2013 3:23 pm
    If this were so why is the Catholic Church alone just sitting on their money?

    The following is just one of many articles on the worth of this Church.

    The Catholic Church is worth at a conservative estimate an amount to the tune of more than $500 million in the United States alone and it is not easy to know the value of its investments in all the countries. Vatican City, in the heart of Rome alone is valued between US $1 Billion and $3 Billion and therefore it is true that Catholic Church is the richest institution on the planet.
  15. TheRestOfTheStory
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    TheRestOfTheStory - August 16, 2013 3:08 pm
    That rant made no sense at all. First you say the the Left does not want a private school funded by the taxpayers and then you somehow relate that with public schools being funded by tax payers. What? How does that even make any sort of logic?

    And would you be this crazy about vouchers if the first school was a Muslim school of Religion being funded by you and your Right-minded friends? Any thought on that , oh wise one?

    Show me where the cost effective studies are , by the way. Prove that one to me. I'm just dying to see who put that study together. If you can find one, that is.

    You haven't even mentioned oversight. Who's training these 'teachers' and who is tracking the 'curriculum' , since private schools (despite throwing out a recent non-binding press release) are not monitored by any system in Wisconsin today?

    You have a skewed sense of reality if you think this is even logical. I don't need to buy a vowel, but you need to bribe your way onto the show as your lack of intelligence is showing.
  16. gobi
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    gobi - August 16, 2013 2:18 pm
    Middle- what you write is not true- nice try though.
  17. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - August 16, 2013 1:05 pm
    Churches don't get any money, it's true.
    Neither do the kids.
    Neither do their parents.
    The money goes to the people who operate the schools. They tend to be (tho are not always) church employees.

    But seriously, since the money is going to support the religious programs of the churches, do you really think we're so stupid we can't figure out who the primary beneficiaries are?
  18. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - August 16, 2013 1:02 pm
    "Chuches provide more social welfare in the world than all the governments combined."

    Like Good Dog Happy Man, you appear to be prone to making broad, sweeping generalizations without a lick of evidence to back them up.
  19. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - August 16, 2013 1:00 pm
    You sure fling the word "hate" around without a lot of evidence to support it.
  20. array1
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    array1 - August 16, 2013 12:50 pm
    by low income you must mean families making up to $70,000 per year, right??
    Don’t be surprised to see eligibility levels changed, too. Voucher programs started out in Milwaukee as a way to help low income students. But in his last budget plan, Walker wanted to phase out the income limits altogether
    Report Abuse
    GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN - August 16, 2013 12:47 pm

    I can practically hear Lefty's venom, hate and gobsmacked point-of-view, 'Now a private Christian School in Madison can get "tax-payer funded" vouchers for the individual student to attend the school of his/her choice."

    Outrageous! O, the humanity!!! O my gunny sacks! With righteous indignation, Lefty sneeringly questions, "I'm forced to pay for that?"

    Why, yes, we are. And God bless us, each and every one.

    Question for youse Lefty's, aren't ALL public schools "tax-payer funded"?

    Wassamatta U? Wise up. get a clue. Buy a vowel from Vanna. Call a friend. Ask for help.

    Seek some truth.

    What offends you more? The fact that this nascent school choice program will prove to be an efficient and effective (as well as,cost-effective) way of educating our students, or, that it is happening inside the Tofu Curtain challenging the stranglehold monopoly of MTI ?

    "We've never done it that way before." are the seven words indicating a failed system.
    Unfortunately, the unionized public schools system has been failing for many years now.

    Time to take these DemonRats down and clean their cages.

  22. Report Abuse
    - August 16, 2013 11:58 am
    Chuches provide more social welfare in the world than all the governments combined. If they stopped this and the state had to make up the difference the cost to you would be soo much it would make your head spin. You are lucky the churches exist and Save you so much tax money.
  23. Report Abuse
    - August 16, 2013 11:56 am
    For Profit? Really? Please provide evidence that any of the private schools in this program actually made a profit of any kind. Almost every religious school operates at a loss or balanced budget. If they had $2 extra dollars they would give it to 1 of the needy families who really can't afford a private school but who want out of public schools badly enough to pay. For Profit! pathetic lies
  24. Report Abuse
    - August 16, 2013 11:52 am
    False, false, false. you lose that bet
  25. Report Abuse
    - August 16, 2013 11:51 am
    Look at it from the other side. Only those at or near the poverty line qualify for this voucher program. Those that attended a private school last year did so despite the fact that they didn't have much money, but they wanted out of the free public school SOOO badly that they paid out of their pocket with very limited $$$ and obviously gave up other necessities to do so. That alone should tell you volumes about how bad our public schools are in some areas.
  26. Report Abuse
    - August 16, 2013 11:47 am
    Students who use these vouchers are not required to attend any religious classes.
  27. Report Abuse
    - August 16, 2013 11:46 am
    Churches don't get any money. School kids will get roughly Half as much money to attend a private school as they would have gotten to attend a Public one. This bill saves taxpayers roughly $6000 / kid who uses a voucher.
  28. Report Abuse
    - August 16, 2013 11:45 am
    Only low income people qualify for this program. That means that some parents want their kids to get out of the public school and into a private schools SOOO incredibly bad that even though they can't afford it, or have to forego other things they do everything they can to afford it.
  29. array1
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    array1 - August 16, 2013 9:57 am
    You know of course private schools are free to discriminate in any way they choose.
  30. array1
    Report Abuse
    array1 - August 16, 2013 9:54 am
    So most of the vouchers will go to students who are ALREADY in private schools!!! What does this have to do with choice? Nothing.
  31. gobi
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    gobi - August 16, 2013 6:27 am
    Churches don't pay taxes AND now they get my tax money . Thanks Scott Walker !
  32. hlf1979
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    hlf1979 - August 16, 2013 5:48 am
    Don't assume that families could afford the school last year just because their child attended. Many private schools offer scholarships for families that cannot afford the tuition. Parents often rely on donations, and help from outside sources to help pay for private school education.
  33. irisK
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    irisK - August 15, 2013 8:28 pm
    It seems that poor children are not receiving the voucher money.
    I am willing to bet that 90% of the voucher money is going to people who live in McMansions in the suburbs.
  34. geo_
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    geo_ - August 15, 2013 8:07 pm
    My tax dollars go to tax exempt organizations? What about separation of church and state. What if these schools teach creationism, my money going to spread lies?
  35. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - August 15, 2013 5:40 pm
    Y'know, one of the virtues of reading professional journalists is that they have the skills and take the time to provide context for their statements. They don't just upchuck random comments from out of left field and expect people to have some idea of what the heck they're talking about.
  36. RichardSRussell
    Report Abuse
    RichardSRussell - August 15, 2013 5:37 pm
    I see that your own education apparently took place in an irony-free zone.
  37. RichardSRussell
    Report Abuse
    RichardSRussell - August 15, 2013 5:37 pm
    What on Earth are you talking about? Nobody wants to deny any kid in Wisconsin a decent education! Are you completely off your rocker?
  38. thedude25
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    thedude25 - August 15, 2013 3:40 pm
    And I get to help pay for a private school with no accountability to me or anyone I vote for....F that.
  39. toby
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    toby - August 15, 2013 3:08 pm
    IF ????? we as taxpayers can support 2 systems, then we would be hypocritical not to offer this type of Educational choice to Parents. My wife & I are both Public School Teachers. Just as long as they meet the same State Standards as Public & provide access for the mentally disabled, emotionally disturbed & handicapped.
  40. twm
    Report Abuse
    twm - August 15, 2013 2:23 pm
    I don’t know who Shirley Jesus is but I bet she’ll do a better job than the current public system. If your spelling is any indication maybe you would've benefited from a private school.
  41. GClef
    Report Abuse
    GClef - August 15, 2013 2:20 pm
    Wait... TWO-THIRDS of the applicants were already enrolled in private school last year? So taxpayers are paying tuition for all of those families who somehow were able to afford it last year, but suddenly can't? Only a quarter of the students are former public school kids - personally, I think that says a lot.
  42. DaTruth
    Report Abuse
    DaTruth - August 15, 2013 1:49 pm
    The hypocrisy of liberals is astounding - let's not give kids of color or poverty a chance at a better education. Great platform. Your WEAC loyalty prevents you from giving these kids a shot at a better life. No wonder membership is going down.
  43. spooky tooth
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    spooky tooth - August 15, 2013 1:37 pm
    Where is the separation of church and state?

    Only a fool would believe we can support for profit, religious and public schools. The dumbing down of the kids in the US will be the end of what made our country great. A good education in the future will be for the elites.
  44. Argyle
    Report Abuse
    Argyle - August 15, 2013 1:22 pm
    Shirley Jesus will make sure they have a good education.
  45. DaTruth
    Report Abuse
    DaTruth - August 15, 2013 11:40 am
    Good thing nobody wants the program. So long, WEAC.

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