- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Nearly 34,000 Wisconsin students have enrolled in the state’s private school tuition subsidy program this year, according to data the state Department of Public Instruction released Friday.

The program provides subsidies, also known as vouchers, to students in Milwaukee, Racine and the rest of the state to defray the cost of private school tuition. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade get $7,323 vouchers. Students in grades nine through 12 receive $7,969. No more than 1 percent of students from a district outside Milwaukee or Racine can enroll in the program.

The money for students who enrolled in the voucher program prior to last year comes out of the state’s general purpose revenue. The money for incoming students comes from reduced aid to the public school district where the student resides.

The new DPI data shows 33,781 students have received a voucher to attend one of 209 participating schools, including 28,188 Milwaukee students, 2,532 Racine students and 3,061 students from other districts. The total cost of the program is estimated at about $244 million this year.

The state also offers $12,000 vouchers to students with special needs for the first time this year, and 206 students received those. They are paid through a deduction in state aid to the public school district where the student resides. The special needs program is expected to costed 22 districts about $2.4 million in aid, according to the data.

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