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Voucher program could effect enrollment

By Kyle Dimke, kdimke@wkbt.com
Published On: Jan 30 2014 06:39:57 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 30 2014 07:10:18 PM CST
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WKBT, News8000.com

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) -

The number of vouchers for students across Wisconsin is going from 500 to 1,000 this year. The window to apply for the voucher program begins this Saturday, just two days before open enrollment begins for public schools. During this time school districts are competing for students and funding and now even more students have the opportunity to take their money out of the public school system.

The La Crosse School District saw an increased number of students coming into the district this year.

"Total enrollment for this school year is up for the first time in several years," La Crosse School District Superintendent Randy Nelson said.

Those numbers are constantly monitored.

"We're always watching that margin to really ensure that at the end of the day we're doing everything we can to make sure that we have more students open enrolling in than open enrolling out," Nelson said.

With the number of vouchers in Wisconsin's Choice Program doubling enrollment will be watched a little closer.

"The enrollment means a lot in terms of balancing budget and bringing state aid and helping out our taxpayers," Nelson said.

Aquinas Catholic Schools are the only schools in the area that have participated in the voucher program and with 1,000 vouchers available this year they hope to gain some more students.

"Our hope is really that we would see another 20 students or so that participate in the program," President of Aquinas Catholic Schools Kurt Nelson said.

Kurt Nelson said the vouchers are helping people get the faith-based education they desire.

"The choice program really provides the families that are the most critical (in) need financially and provides them that outlet to have state funding to help meet their needs," Kurt Nelson said.

But Superintendent Randy Nelson worries that continuing to increase the number of vouchers is really going to cut into funding for public education.

"I think the biggest impact and the biggest unknown is financial," Randy Nelson said.

After calling seven other private schools in the Coulee Region, Aquinas is the only school choosing to participate in the voucher program again this year.

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