School Choice FAQs

School Choice FAQs

FAQs for Parents

Programs at a Glance

MPCP

RPCP

WPCP

SNSP

Residency:

Milwaukee Public School District (MPS) Racine Unified Public School District (RUSD) Wisconsin, not MPS or RUSD All Wisconsin

Income Threshold:

300% of Federal Poverty Level 300% of Federal Poverty Level 220% of Federal Poverty Level None

Eligibility:

  • Any student K4-12
  • Public school K4-12 students
  • Students not enrolled in school the prior year
  • Students enrolled in MPCP/RPCP/WPCP the prior year
  • Private school students entering K4, K5, 1st, and 9th grade
  • Out-of-state students
  • Public school K4-12 students
  • Students not enrolled in school the prior year
  • Students enrolled in MPCP/RPCP/WPCP the prior year
  • Private school students entering K4, K5, 1st, and 9th grade
  • Out-of-state students
  • Students with an individualized Education Program (IEP) or services plan that meets program requirements

Enrollment Periods:

Jan 1–7
Feb 1–22
Mar 1–22
Apr 1–20
May 1–20
Jun 1–21
Jul 1–20
Aug 1–20
Sep 1–14
Oct 1–20
Nov 1–22
Dec 1–31
Feb 1–22
Mar 1–22
Apr 1–20
May 1–20
Jun 1–21
Jul 1–20
Aug 1–20
Sep 1–14
Feb 1–Apr 21, 2022 Jul 1, 2021–Jun 30, 2022 for the ’21–22 school year

Yes, you may apply to more than one participating choice program school.

Income Threshold

In the MPCP and the RPCP, your family must have an Adjusted Gross Income at or below 300% of the federal poverty level with an additional $7,000 allowed for a married couple. n the WPCP, your family must have an Adjusted Gross Income at or below 220% of the federal poverty level, with an additional $7,000 allowed for a married couple (see tables below).

The “once in, always in” provision means your child keeps his or her voucher even if family income rises, as long as he or she does not voluntarily leave the program.

Tuition & Fees

You can be charged reasonable fees for:

  • Personal items such as towels, gym clothes or uniforms
  • Social and extracurricular activities as long as the activity is not a part of the required curriculum
  • Musical instruments
  • Meals
  • High school classes not required or credited for graduation
  • Transportation
  • Before-school and after-school child care

In K-8th grade, schools can’t charge additional tuition. In grades 9-12, a school is allowed to charge additional tuition if the family’s adjusted gross income exceeds 220% of the federal poverty level.

Enrollment

Yes, you may apply to more than one participating choice program school.

A student who meets residency and income requirements is eligible for the program. A school may not use grades or test scores as a condition of acceptance into the program. Once a student is accepted into the program, a school may test a student for placement purposes within the school.

Call your preferred private or religious school to see if they intend to participate in one of Wisconsin’s Parental Choice Programs. A list of schools that currently participate can also be found here. You may search for school by address or current location on our interactive map.

There is no limit on the number of schools or students that may participate in either the Milwaukee or the Racine Parental Choice Programs.

In the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program in 2021 – 2022, the student cap is determined by calculating 6% of the local school districts enrollment. Enrollment in a particular area can not exceed that 6% cap.

Each private or religious school determines the grade levels and the number of seats it will make available to students in the Parental Choice Programs. This will vary from school to school.

Yes. Once a student is accepted and enrolled in the school, he or she is required to follow the school’s policies and procedures. A parent should contact the school for a copy of its policies and procedures. In addition, state law requires schools to have policies and procedures in place regarding suspension and expulsion.

 


 

FAQs for Schools

Overview

Categories: FAQs for Schools, Overview

School Choice Wisconsin is available to meet at your school to help educate your school leadership, parents, faculty, staff, school boards, and congregations. Call us at 414-319-9160.

Categories: FAQs for Schools, Overview

Administrators who have considered bringing choice to their schools often consider School Choice Wisconsin their go-to partner or “help desk” as they learn more about the school choice program in this state. We can help you with questions like:

  • How do Wisconsin’s private and religious school choice programs function?
  • How do schools apply to the program?
  • How do families apply to the program?
  • What are the statutory, regulatory and financial requirements?
  • What is the dollar value of each voucher?
  • How do we market our school to parents and the community?
  • What do we need to know that we don’t know to ask?
Categories: FAQs for Schools, Overview

Founded in 2004, School Choice Wisconsin is the lead organization working to advance school choice opportunities in Wisconsin. Staffed by experts in government relations and school operations, School Choice Wisconsin:

  • Works with legislators to expand and improve Wisconsin’s school choice programs.
  • Works with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to insure private and religious schools are protected from burdensome regulations.
  • Works directly with private and religious schools to maximize their participation in school choice programs and to assist them with program compliance.

Eligibility

There are no limits on the number of schools that may participate in Wisconsin’s parental choice programs.

Most private or religious schools in Wisconsin are eligible to participate. Registration requirements and deadlines differ based on whether your school is considered a “new private school” or an “existing private school”. Contact School Choice Wisconsin with any questions regarding participation.

Requirements

No, choice schools are not required to participate in the federal free and reduced lunch program.

Yes. All teachers must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Teacher’s aides must have a high school diploma or equivalent.

In 2021 – 2022, schools with 20 or more students participating in any of Wisconsin’s parental choice programs must administer the state examinations to participating students in the same grades and subject areas as Wisconsin’s public school students, as follows:

  • Wisconsin Forward Exam for English Language Arts and Mathematics assessments in the spring for grades 3‑8.
  • Wisconsin Forward Exam for Science in the spring for grades 4 and 8.
  • Wisconsin Forward Exam for Social Studies in the spring for grades 4, 8, and 10.
  • ACT Aspire™ in spring for grades 9 and 10
  • The ACT® and ACT WorkKeys® in the spring for grade 11
  • The state civics exam in high school.

In addition:

  • Schools may administer other standardized tests in addition to the required state test.
  • The DPI pays the cost of state testing for students that participate in one of Wisconsin’s school choice programs. Schools may choose to administer the state test to “non-voucher” (private pay tuition) students, but those costs are the responsibility of the
  • school.
  • Schools must submit standardized test scores to DPI and to parents of current students, as well as to all program applicants who request them.
  • Schools will be required to place a link to their DPI-issued school report card on the homepage of their school website.
  • Parents may opt their children out of state testing.
  • 4K: 437 hours of direct pupil instruction
  • 5K: 1,050 hours of direct pupil instruction for a full-time student
  • Grades 1-6: 1,050 hours of direct pupil instruction
  • Grades 7-12: 1,137 hours of direct pupil instruction.

Please note that schools that only offer 4K and 5K are required to provide 875 hours of direct pupil instruction in accordance with standard private school hours requirements.

Financial

Yes, as follows:

  • A private school may charge a choice student reasonable fees for personal items such as towels, room and board, gym clothes or uniforms, social and extracurricular activities if the activity is not a part of the required curriculum, along with musical instruments, meals, and high school classes not required or credited for graduation.

A choice student may not be charged a fee for registration or application to the choice program, books, teacher salaries, buildings, maintenance, equipment, computers, and any other fee directly related to the required curriculum such as field trips.

For more information please consult the DPI bulletin “Student Tuition and Fees.”

Tuition for new students may not be charged in addition to the program payment. If family income rises above 220 percent of federal poverty levels in subsequent years, high school students may be charged additional tuition.

For more information, please consult the DPI bulletin “Student Tuition and Fees.”

Students continuing in the program do not need to submit income information. Schools only need to verify the income of new applicants. See the DPI bulletin “Income Documentation”.

  • $10-15K for audit cost annually
  • $275 application fee annually

The cost of a student information system if you don’t already have one: ~$2,500 startup costs and $10 per student per annum (only parental choice program students must participate)

Finance:

  • 40 hours budget preparation
  • 8 hour budget training
  • 40 hours audit preparation

Administration: Up to 20 students

  • 20 hours to prepare application forms
  • 20 hours to complete student applications
  • 20 hours of reports due throughout the year
  • A good principal/secretary/parent volunteer team can handle this initially

Schools receive four equal payments at the end of September, November, February, and May.

  • The first two payments are generated by the third Friday in September enrollment count.
  • The last two payments are generated by the second Friday in January enrollment count.

Schools

Categories: FAQs for Schools, Schools

Title IX only applies to institutions that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. DOE. Private elementary and secondary schools whose students or teachers receive equitable services under federal education programs are not considered to be “recipients of federal financial assistance.” (Council for American Private Education).

20 U.S.C. §§ 1681–1688; 34 C.F.R. Pt. 106; 28 C.F.R. Pt. 54. In this [Dear Colleague] letter, the term “schools” refers to recipients of Federal financial assistance at all educational levels, including school districts, colleges, and universities. An educational institution that is controlled by a religious organization is exempt from Title IX to the extent that compliance would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization. 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a)(3); 34 C.F.R. § 106.12(a).

Categories: FAQs for Schools, Schools

Schools must accept any student with a voucher that meets income eligibility and residency requirements. Schools are not permitted to select students with a voucher based on any other factors. Once a child is admitted, the private school is only required to offer those services assisting students with special needs that it can provide with minor adjustments. Private schools should work with their school districts, which have the legal responsibility to provide services to special needs children in private schools.

Categories: FAQs for Schools, Schools

No, schools are not required to provide transportation to students participating in choice programs. If the school chooses to provide transportation, a fee may be charged. In certain situations, the district is obligated to provide transportation to the student or enter into a contract with parents to reimburse for transportation costs.

Categories: FAQs for Schools, Schools

No, a school may not impose any penalties on a parent or child in the choice program for failure to engage in fundraising (which would include any required service to the school). Schools may ask all parents if they would voluntarily assist their child’s school. For more information, please consult the DPI bulletin “Student Tuition and Fees.”

Categories: FAQs for Schools, Schools

Yes, parents can choose to opt their children out of formal religious instruction and worship, however most schools do not receive such requests. Religious schools should still remain true to their mission and culture and they may continue to inspire their curriculum with the teachings and values of their faith. Schools may display symbols of their faith in hallways and classrooms, pray together at the beginning of class or before meals, and all other actions that affirm their belief and traditions.

Categories: FAQs for Schools, Schools

Yes, state law requires schools participating in Wisconsin’s school choice programs to have policies and procedures in place and published in handbooks that regulate suspensions and expulsions. The school’s handbooks and written policies should be explicit as to student responsibilities, expectations, and causes for disciplinary action, including suspension and expulsion. Once a student is enrolled and accepted in the school, he or she is bound by school policies and procedures including suspension or expulsion. Parents and older students should sign a document stating that they have read the handbooks and policies, understand them, and will abide by them. This document forms a contract between the school and the parent/student. A school must supply parents with a copy of its handbooks, including the procedures the school has in place for imposition or appeal of suspensions or expulsions.

 


 

FAQs for Programs

Milwaukee Parental Choice Program FAQ

Some schools accept the supporting documentation via email. Contact the school directly regarding how to provide the supporting documentation or check their website.

Schools are permitted to charge additional fees for the following things:

  • Personal items such as towels, gym clothes or uniforms
  • Social and extracurricular activities not a part of the required curriculum
  • Musical instruments
  • Meals
  • Transportation
  • Before and after-school care
  • High school classes not required for graduation

In grades K-8, the voucher is accepted as full payment for the cost of tuition. In grades 9-12, the school may charge additional tuition if the family’s income is greater than 220 percent of the federal poverty level.

If you don’t want your child to participate in religious activity or religious instruction, simply notify the child’s teacher or the school principal in writing.

All students who meet residency, prior year attendance, and income requirements are eligible for the program. A school may not use grades or test scores as a condition of acceptance. A school may test students for placement purposes after they’ve been accepted.

You need complete the online application each year during the open enrollment period. Open enrollment periods vary by Choice program.

The application is on the DPI website and you must have an email address to use the system. If your student doesn’t meet the application grade level or prior year attendance requirement, you won’t be able to complete the application.

You may apply to one or more schools at the same time.

Eligibility is based on family income, prior year attendance, residency, and age of students entering grades K4, K5, and 1. Eligibility is not based on race, ethnic background, religion, prior test scores, grades, recommendations or membership in a church or parish. Choice schools must accept all eligible applications.

In the RPCP, the school must have a random drawing to select Choice students if there are more eligible applications submitted than seats available. In the WPCP, the DPI conducts the random drawing.

It depends on the school and on the school district. Some schools provide transportation. Some districts provide transportation or reimburse the parent a certain amount for their transportation costs. Check directly with the school you plan to attend or with your district of residence.

The school will notify you within 60 days whether your child has received a voucher or has been placed on a waiting list. If more applications are received than slots available, the school will also let you know the date of the lottery to select Choice students. If your student is placed on the waiting list, the school will let you know what your place in line is. If the school rejects your application, the notice of non-acceptance will give you the reason why.

If your student is offered a Choice seat, you must notify the school within five days whether or not they will attend. You must also provide proof of residency and income before the end of the enrollment period.

The “once in, always in” provision means your child keeps his or her voucher even if family income rises, as long as your student continues to attend a Choice school and does not voluntarily leave the program. Your family might have some children who qualify and others that don’t depending on the year each one applies to enter one of the Wisconsin School Choice programs.

Racine Parental Choice Program FAQ

Some schools accept the supporting documentation via email. Contact the school directly regarding how to provide the supporting documentation or check their website.

Schools are permitted to charge additional fees for the following things:

  • Personal items such as towels, gym clothes or uniforms
  • Social and extracurricular activities not a part of the required curriculum
  • Musical instruments
  • Meals
  • Transportation
  • Before and after-school care
  • High school classes not required for graduation

In grades K-8, the voucher is accepted as full payment for the cost of tuition. In grades 9-12, the school may charge additional tuition if the family’s income is greater than 220 percent of the federal poverty level.

If you don’t want your child to participate in religious activity or religious instruction, simply notify the child’s teacher or the school principal in writing.

All students who meet residency, prior year attendance, and income requirements are eligible for the program. A school may not use grades or test scores as a condition of acceptance. A school may test students for placement purposes after they’ve been accepted.

You need complete the online application each year during the open enrollment period. Open enrollment periods vary by Choice program.

The application is on the DPI website and you must have an email address to use the system. If your student doesn’t meet the application grade level or prior year attendance requirement, you won’t be able to complete the application.

You may apply to one or more schools at the same time.

Eligibility is based on family income, prior year attendance, residency, and age of students entering grades K4, K5, and 1. Eligibility is not based on race, ethnic background, religion, prior test scores, grades, recommendations or membership in a church or parish. Choice schools must accept all eligible applications.

In the RPCP, the school must have a random drawing to select Choice students if there are more eligible applications submitted than seats available. In the WPCP, the DPI conducts the random drawing.

It depends on the school and on the school district. Some schools provide transportation. Some districts provide transportation or reimburse the parent a certain amount for their transportation costs. Check directly with the school you plan to attend or with your district of residence.

The school will notify you within 60 days whether your child has received a voucher or has been placed on a waiting list. If more applications are received than slots available, the school will also let you know the date of the lottery to select Choice students. If your student is placed on the waiting list, the school will let you know what your place in line is. If the school rejects your application, the notice of non-acceptance will give you the reason why.

If your student is offered a Choice seat, you must notify the school within five days whether or not they will attend. You must also provide proof of residency and income before the end of the enrollment period.

The “once in, always in” provision means your child keeps his or her voucher even if family income rises, as long as your student continues to attend a Choice school and does not voluntarily leave the program. Your family might have some children who qualify and others that don’t depending on the year each one applies to enter one of the Wisconsin School Choice programs.

Wisconsin Parental Choice Program FAQ

Some schools accept the supporting documentation via email. Contact the school directly regarding how to provide the supporting documentation or check their website.

Schools are permitted to charge additional fees for the following things:

  • Personal items such as towels, gym clothes or uniforms
  • Social and extracurricular activities not a part of the required curriculum
  • Musical instruments
  • Meals
  • Transportation
  • Before and after-school care
  • High school classes not required for graduation

In grades K-8, the voucher is accepted as full payment for the cost of tuition. In grades 9-12, the school may charge additional tuition if the family’s income is greater than 220 percent of the federal poverty level.

If you don’t want your child to participate in religious activity or religious instruction, simply notify the child’s teacher or the school principal in writing.

All students who meet residency, prior year attendance, and income requirements are eligible for the program. A school may not use grades or test scores as a condition of acceptance. A school may test students for placement purposes after they’ve been accepted.

You need complete the online application each year during the open enrollment period. Open enrollment periods vary by Choice program.

The application is on the DPI website and you must have an email address to use the system. If your student doesn’t meet the application grade level or prior year attendance requirement, you won’t be able to complete the application.

You may apply to one or more schools at the same time.

Eligibility is based on family income, prior year attendance, residency, and age of students entering grades K4, K5, and 1. Eligibility is not based on race, ethnic background, religion, prior test scores, grades, recommendations or membership in a church or parish. Choice schools must accept all eligible applications.

In the RPCP, the school must have a random drawing to select Choice students if there are more eligible applications submitted than seats available. In the WPCP, the DPI conducts the random drawing.

It depends on the school and on the school district. Some schools provide transportation. Some districts provide transportation or reimburse the parent a certain amount for their transportation costs. Check directly with the school you plan to attend or with your district of residence.

The school will notify you within 60 days whether your child has received a voucher or has been placed on a waiting list. If more applications are received than slots available, the school will also let you know the date of the lottery to select Choice students. If your student is placed on the waiting list, the school will let you know what your place in line is. If the school rejects your application, the notice of non-acceptance will give you the reason why.

If your student is offered a Choice seat, you must notify the school within five days whether or not they will attend. You must also provide proof of residency and income before the end of the enrollment period.

The “once in, always in” provision means your child keeps his or her voucher even if family income rises, as long as your student continues to attend a Choice school and does not voluntarily leave the program. Your family might have some children who qualify and others that don’t depending on the year each one applies to enter one of the Wisconsin School Choice programs.

Special Needs Scholarship Program FAQ

Yes. A SNSP school can charge a SNSP student tuition and fees. For the optional High Cost Funding, schools can spend up to 150% of the base voucher amount per student. That must be paid out of pocket the first year, but will be reflected in the scholarship amount for the following year.

Only schools that registered to participate in the SNSP for the current school year may accept SNSP students.

SNSP schools are required to implement the IEP or services plan of SNSP students as modified by agreement between the SNSP school and the student’s parent.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has Frequently Asked Questions for Parents in PDF form available on their website. Or you may call us at 414-319-9160.

A student will not receive a SNSP scholarship until he or she is accepted into the program and the parent and the school have agreed on the services that will be provided to the student. If a parent chooses to move his or her student to the private school before this time, the private school may choose to charge additional tuition and fees for that time period. Parents should discuss this with the school they are applying to in order to understand the school’s process.

Students may apply for the SNSP program from July 1 to June 30 annually. Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, except for sibling preference. There is no need to reapply annually, as long as the student stays in the same school. The scholarship must be made available for reevaluation every three years. Transfer to another school is possible.

A list of schools that have registered to participate for the 2022–2023 school year is available on the DPI website.