Committee moves forward on school choice expansion

    The Assembly Education Committee has voted along party lines to pass a measure to lift the enrollment cap on the Milwaukee school choice program.
    That bill, AB 92, would also allow private schools in Milwaukee County, rather than only within the city, to participate in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
    Democrats ripped the bill as part of a "comprehensive attack on the city of Milwaukee," arguing that MPS is already facing an uncertain fiscal future. Rep. Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, also said lawmakers should begin counting voucher school students toward the city’s property tax base for determining state equalization aid.
    "Until we fix the funding flaw and get that under control, I don’t think we should even be talking about expansion," Sinicki said.
    Committee Chairman Steve Kestell, R-Elkhart Lake, said changing the funding would force legislators to address the loss of that aid to other districts throughout the state, and that MPS proponents should instead focus on improving the district.
    "I was disappointed, and still am disappointed, that that was the focus" of the public hearing on the bill, Kestell said.
    The committee also passed bills to regulate the sale of vacant Milwaukee Public Schools properties, make administrative changes to the MPCP and adjust the deadlines for open enrollment.
    Meanwhile Gov. Scott Walker announced plans to talk about school choice May 9 in a speech to the American Federal for Children’s National Policy Summit in Washington, D.C.

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