Education Watch – Busting School Choice Myths: Green Bay Edition

Jun 30, 2023 | Wisconsin Voices Blog

From the Green Bay Area Public Schools board: “And if the state had reimbursed us anywhere near the level they’re doing for the voucher schools’ special education program, [our budget deficit] would be much, much less.” “Right now, our revenue ceiling will move to 11,000 dollars per pupil and the 9 through 12 vouchers, it’s my understanding that that will be 12,000 dollars per pupil. So, it’ll be 1,000 dollars more.” Watch more here.

Quinton Klabon

Additional context from IRG Senior Research Director Quinton Klabon:

  • As Wisconsinites debate the merits of the bipartisan school funding increase, it’s important to dismiss false claims. Green Bay’s are similar to those of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.
  • The special needs voucher amount will have gone from $13,076 in 2023 to $15,046 in 2024. Critics claim that the state pays voucher schools 90% of the special needs costs of those students. That refers to
    9 total children in a specialized program. They also may not understand that the voucher pays for that child’s entire education, not just the special needs part. In comparison, the average district will receive about $18,000, all told, per special needs student next year. (Neither amount approaches the roughly $29,000 total cost of public special needs students in 2022.)
  • Critics also compare charter and voucher amounts to districts’ revenue limits. The correction there is simple: Wisconsin only limits property tax revenue and general aid from the state. Categorical state aid (like special needs) and all federal aid is not limited. As a result, Green Bay received $16,848 per student in 2022, far more than choice.
  • According to IRG’s groundbreaking ESSER III research, Green Bay has 1 year to allocate $33 million in federal relief after starting with $45 million. The current board did not create the massive deficit that Green Bay faces, but choice schools didn’t, either.