An independent charter school program would expand to medium and large school districts around Wisconsin, under a bill passed Wednesday by Republicans on the Legislature’s budget committee.
The proposal passed 12-3 on a party-line vote, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats voting against.
The bill would take an independent charter school program currently operating in only Milwaukee and Racine and extend it statewide to districts with more than 2,000 students. That would apply to roughly a quarter of the state’s districts.
Republicans said it would help provide another options for students whose schools are failing them.
“The bill we are taking up today is truly something that is going to help the long-term prospects of Wisconsin,” said Rep. Robin Vos (R-Burlington), a co-chairman of the committee.
But Democrats said that the program would undermine local control of schools by elected officials in favor of an unelected board. They said the proposal could also prove another financial blow to regular public schools that are losing nearly $800 million in state aid over two years as part of the state budget and having tight state caps placed on their property tax levies.