Racine Journal Times | Flanders: More money for fewer students, great for school districts, bad for taxpayers

 In Education Reform, ER Commentary, In the News

WILL Research Director, Dr. Will Flanders, writing in the Racine Journal Times:

The Journal Times reported that the Racine Unified School District (RUSD) stands to lose $1.4 million in revenue under a proposed change to the funding formula for the school voucher program (SB 615). However, the story glosses over a major point: the $1.4 million was a profit to RUSD from the taxpayers for children that they no longer educate.

As explained further in a report I recently co-authored, current law permits school districts to levy property taxes up to the state-set per student revenue limit, which for most schools, is well beyond the cost of the voucher. Put another way, school districts could skim a “school choice bonus” from children leaving their schools to attend a private school. And, as the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau notes, many did just that, fleecing taxpayers of more than $3.7 million.

Sadly, RUSD was the biggest culprit. This was not about recouping the cost of the voucher — the $1.4 million is a windfall beyond the cost of the voucher, which is approximately $7,200 per student.

The proposed amendment by Speaker Vos, as noted in the story, simply prohibits school districts from profiting off of low-income children in the voucher program. More money for fewer students was a great deal for school districts, but a lousy one for taxpayers.

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