Parents who send their kids to private school may receive a tax credit in the future. A Republican-backed proposal is being floated in the legislature as an alternative to Governor Walker's $73 million voucher expansion plan.
Roughly 100,000 students attend private schools in the state of Wisconsin. About 800 of those students are at Newman Catholic Schools in Wausau. Tuition ranges from $2,700 a year for elementary school to more than $4,900 a year for high school.
"Thirty percent of all the students have some type of support outside of what they're parents are providing," President of Newman Catholic Schools Dr. Jan Klosinski explained.
The same is true just down the road at Faith Christian Academy where nearly 20 percent of their students are in need of financial assistance.
"We're giving as many discounts as we can, to the point that it hurts," head administrator Dave Wysong told NewsChannel 7.
That's why both Wysong and Dr. Klosinski are so excited at the possibility of their students' parents receiving state aid.
Unlike the voucher program, the tax credit would be open to any student in a private school not currently receiving a voucher. But the president of School Choice Wisconsin, Jim Bender, warns the tax credit should not be considered a substitute for vouchers. That's because vouchers are currently worth $6,442 per student. Where as the tax credit, once fully phased in, will only be worth $1,500 for elementary school students and $2,500 for students in high school. Still, Wysong thinks the tax credit is a good compromise.
"I know the public sector is doing their best to provide an education for young people and we're doing our best. I don't want to take away from them," Wysong explained adding, "At the same time it would be great to help the families that want to send their kids to a private school."
"The tax credit is far more reaching and may have a greater impact to all of the families that are making those types of choices for their children's education," Dr. Klosinski pointed out.
If the task credit is passed, private schools like Faith Christian Academy could see an influx of students.
"They're a lot of families I talk to and either they pull their children out because of financial reasons or they want to send their children here, but they don't feel like they financially can. I think the tax credit would be a great help," Wysong said.
According to co-sponsors of the tuition credit, the measure is by no means an attempt to take the place of the voucher system. But it may be a viable alternative if the voucher proposal doesn't pan out.