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Gov. Walker considering tweak to voucher proposal

LA CROSSE, Wis. - Governor Scott Walker says he's open to tweaking his proposal to expand school vouchers in Wisconsin.

There's talk of requiring private schools that receive voucher dollars to follow the same accountability system as public schools.

Having one accountability system is something public and private education leaders do agree is necessary for an expansion to be successful. 

"It would allow the same comparisons to happen between the two...a little bit better," said Janet Rosseter, executive director of business services for the La Crosse School District.

"You will be able to see a true apples to apples comparison," said Dr. Kurt Nelson, the president of Aquinas Catholic Schools.

Otherwise, public and private education leaders disagree on whether expanding school vouchers is what's best for the state.


"Taxess will go up because what is happening with these vouchers is they're skimmed right off the top," said Rosseter.

"The voucher system really gives the dollars to parents and it's really parents who make the choice," said Nelson.

 Even if lawmakers decide to make that change, the controversy over school vouchers will not be gone. That's because there's heated debate between the two sides whether taxpayer money should fund private education.

Rosseter says the current proposal just diverts money away from public schools.

"There's not a new pot of money so what will happen is that if voucher schools are expanded, that will come from the existing public schools," she said.

Nelson, on the other hand, says vouchers give parents more choices.

"Private school parents will often say: 'I pay tax dollars to support public schools that my children aren't going to, so why don't those dollars follow my student whereever we choose to put them'," he explained.

Expansion of school vouchers is not being proposed in all communities. It would only be in districts with more than 4,000 students, 2 failing schools, and 20 or more students interested in participating.

La Crosse has enough students to qualify for expansion but did not have any failing schools in the last report card.

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