Governor Scott Walker has been a champion of vouchers and charters. He has pushed hard to expand vouchers for religious schools. Some districts will not even lose students but will have to raise taxes to pay for voucher students.

“When Superintendent Sue Kaphingst moved to Chilton less than a year ago, she marveled at how the northeastern Wisconsin community rallied around its local school district.

“Nestled to the east of Lake Winnebago about 75 miles north of Milwaukee, Chilton and its 3,900 residents felt cohesive. Football stars acted in the high school musical. Parents, students and school board members created a yarn art installation on the Chilton Middle School lawn to demonstrate that they were all connected. The high school theater was built with millions from a local family who owned pet supplies company Kaytee Products.

“But there’s a new development here and in other communities across Wisconsin that will test those ties: school vouchers. Four years after the GOP-led Legislature approved a statewide voucher program, the number of private schools registered to receive taxpayer-funded tuition subsidies has sharply increased. Together with the longstanding Milwaukee voucher program and the more recent Racine voucher program, close to 300 private, predominantly religious schools from Lake Superior to the Illinois border are poised to receive taxpayer funding for an estimated 33,750 students this fall, according to Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget.

“For the first time, the Chilton School District could face either an enrollment drop because children will use a voucher to attend the local Catholic school they couldn’t otherwise afford, or more likely, the district will have to raise taxes to fund vouchers for children who already attend the private school.

“Together, the state’s voucher programs are expected to cost about $263 million in 2017-’18, according to Walker’s budget proposal.”