A Rhinelander Catholic school is hoping to take part in the state’s expanded school voucher program. Nativity of Our Lord Catholic School is one of 48 schools statewide that registered for the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program. It allows low-income students to attend private or religious schools using a state-funded voucher. Nativity Catholic School Principal Shirley Heise says it’s an opportunity for some families to afford a faith-based education.
“Not because we don’t have a wonderful public school system, or anything other than the fact that parents should have the choice to put their children in a non-public school setting if that’s what they choose. Not everyone wants a faith-based background for their children, but for those that do they should be able to afford it.”
Heise says she’s not sure what the application response will be. If more than 500 students apply for the program statewide, only those 25 schools with the most applications will be allowed to participate.
“There’s been a lot of conversation, will any schools north of highway 29 – which is us – actually make the cut? Because those larger cities, if you’re looking at Wausau and La Crosse and Stevens Point, they’re going to have a lot of students and families that are going to be applying.”
Critics say the program will divert badly-needed funds from public schools. Next year the voucher program will expand to include up to 1000 students. Applications for vouchers are due this Friday, August 9th at 4 pm, along with proof of residency and income verification.