Why A Successful Milwaukee High School Is Closing Their Doors

Will Flanders

So, what happened? Why is HOPE closing their high school doors? 

Schools in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (as well as the state’s other school choice programs) receive significantly less funding per student than do traditional public schools in the same area. For instance, Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) receives about $13,344 per student in state and local funds, while a school like HOPE High School receives just $8,946 per student. Not only is this amount lower than MPS, it is lower than any public school district in the state. And this doesn’t even take into account federal funds, which add $2,500 per student to MPS with a smaller amount going to private schools in the choice program.  

To overcome this deficit, private schools are required to fundraise extensively, or limit the enrollment of students utilizing the voucher in the school in favor of tuition-paying students. These financial constraints tend to limit on the supply of private schools willing to participate in the state’s school choice programs because the voucher amount is, quite simply, insufficient for a typical high school education.