An addition to the state budget written by Rep. Tom Weatherston and approved by the Joint Committee on Finance would grant Gateway Technical College the ability to establish charter high schools if Gov. Scott Walker signs it into law.
Weatherston, R-Caledonia, released a statement over the weekend announcing the bill’s inclusion in the budget. The measure would encompass Gateway’s taxing district of Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties.
“I want to give Technical Colleges the flexibility and opportunity to establish new ways to get young adults trained and into the workforce quickly and with minimal or no debt,” said Weatherston. “Not every student plans to attend a four year college, this is an alternative pathway to a high school diploma for students who may not respond well to a traditional education.”
According to Weatherston’s release, the new schools would be funded just like other independent charter schools as well as:
- The resident school district would count the student as attending for revenue limits and aid purposes;
- DPI would reduce the district’s aid to pay the charter school a payment for each student;
- The district would not be able to levy to backfill the aid reduction; and
- The new charter schools would be designated for high school only and would focus on STEM or occupational education.
Current aid levels were $8,075 for the 2014-2015 school year.
State Superintendent Tony Evers objects to the move and told The Journal Times that, if approved, the bill will negatively impact local public school funding and property taxes.
“(The) JFC’s party line vote hands power and authority to a bevy of individuals and groups … that will impact local school funding and property taxes,” he is quoted as saying.
Gateway President Bryan Albrecht was aware of the vote but said until the budget is approved there isn’t much to say, the story continues.
Dan Rossmiller, director of government relations for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, told the newspaper that technical classes are already available to students and that charter schools – which he supports – should be under the control of local school boards.