A Republican bill introduced last spring that would work to expand charter schools in the state has been received cautiously by several members
of the party concerned about its effect on local school districts.
Republicans in the Senate and Assembly have been hesitant to support the bill, which was introduced by last spring by Sen. Alberta Darling,
R-River Hills, because in some instances, the proposed legislation allows charter
schools to be established in a school district without the local district’s
permission, said Todd Allbaugh, a spokesperson for Sen. Dale Schultz,
In its current form, Allbaugh said, the proposed legislation will provide charter schools more expansion powers within the state.
Wisconsin has more than 200 charter schools, or tuition-based public schools that are organized independent from local school districts. More than 37,000
students are enrolled in the schools.
The proposed legislation would attempt to get rid of the “roadblocks” in the way of charter school expansion under the current state law, the
By choosing to protect the powers local school districts have in approving entrance of charter schools within their jurisdiction, Allbaugh
said Schultz is on par with basic Republican ideals. He said the position should not be considered
exceptionally moderate, since localizing control has been a backbone of the
modern Republican Party.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Graeme Zielinski said the actions of both Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators in the
last six months have weakened the strength of public education in the
He said Republican education initiatives have continuously prioritized private schools ahead of public schools for state financing and
“The people this administration have served are not the working families of Wisconsin,”
Zielinski said. “[Walker and Republican legislators] are raking money out of
schools that serve working families for schools that serve the children of
In the statement, Rep. Robin Vos, R-Burlington, who co-authored the bill, said it encourages educational innovations by investing in charter
schools throughout the state.
According to the statement, the proposed legislation would establish a statewide charter school board that would have authorization
over charter schools, give charter operators the ability to handle more than
one school with a single charter and create statewide standards for charter
Enrollment caps on virtual charter schools currently in place, which allow 5,250 virtual charter students in the state, would be
repealed with the passage of the legislation, the statement said. Vos said in the statement this allows parents to create personalized educational plans to fit the needs of
Allbaugh said he could not say if Schultz would vote for or against the proposed legislation, as the bill will continue to be worked on before
its proposed October enactment. In the meantime, he said Schultz continues to be
open for compromise when it comes to the bill.
“I think [Schultz’s] concern is that we listen to both sides and find a solution that can work, and in particular [for] respecting the local control of school board,” Allbaugh said.