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  • The Center Square

    Supporters: Choice schools more cost-effective than public schools

    By By Benjamin Yount | The Center Square contributor,


    (The Center Square) – School choice supporters in Wisconsin say the latest look at school finances show their schools are a better bargain than their public school counterparts.

    Public school leaders, however, want to make sure all financial aspects for both public and private schools are shown.

    School Choice Wisconsin recently released its analysis of the latest financial data from the state’s Department of Public Instruction.

    "More than 30 years after its inception, school choice continues to deliver on its promise of delivering cost-effective education to students across our state,” School Choice Wisconsin President Nicholas Kelly said.

    The DPI numbers focus on per-pupil spending. School Choice Wisconsin compared the per-student price tags to test scores in Milwaukee, Racine and across the state to per-pupil spending and test scores in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the Racine Parental Choice Program and the statewide Wisconsin Parental Choice Program.

    School Choice Wisconsin says the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program was 89% more cost-effective than the Milwaukee Public Schools. The Racine Parental Choice Program was 92% more cost-effective than the Racine Unified School District. And the statewide Wisconsin Parental Choice Program was 42% more cost-effective than statewide public schools.

    “Using conservative assumptions, the report shows a marked advantage for schools in the state’s private school choice programs. The advantage is most pronounced in Milwaukee and Racine. A lesser but still sizable advantage exists in the statewide program,” the report stated .

    The Wisconsin Association of School Boards didn’t comment directly on School Choice Wisconsin’s report but said it supports a comprehensive look at financial transparency for all schools in Wisconsin.

    “The Wisconsin Association of School Boards has concerns that a proposed school finance dashboard may exclude data on private schools that directly impacts public school district budgets and taxpayers,” the association said in a statement. “The WASB urges legislators to include financial data related to private schools that receive taxpayer funds in any portal developed to provide a complete and accurate picture of public school district finances.”

    School Choice Wisconsin agrees there is a need to fully understand school finances.

    “By understating public school revenue by omitting federal aid and private donations, and overstating private school fundraising, this analysis provides a conservative estimate of overall cost-effectiveness of private schools that participate in the choice programs,” School Choice Wisconsin added. “Of note, the overall cost-effectiveness advantage is maintained even when accounting for this summer's funding increases.”

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