Doyle: Virtual school bill must cap enrollmentMADISON – Gov. Jim Doyle said Monday that he will veto any Assembly--passed bill to continue virtual schools
By: By STEVEN WALTERS/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Daily Telegram
MADISON – Gov. Jim Doyle said Monday that he will veto any Assembly--passed bill to continue virtual schools that doesn’t include an enrollment cap.
The GOP-led Assembly is planning to debate a virtual-school measure on Thursday that would not limit enrollment. About 3,500 students are enrolled in virtual schools.
Doyle defended his version of the bill that would cap enrollment at the current number of students, plus their siblings, and any other students who met the Friday deadline to enroll for fall. The Senate passed that bill last week.
The cap would be in place two years, then could increase slightly each year through the 2014-15 school year.
Doyle said his proposal would “sort of keep things where they are,” as a major study of how virtual schools affect property taxes and bricks-and-mortar schools is conducted.
The Democrat spoke in a conference call with reporters from Washington, where he was meeting with other governors and federal officials.
Republican legislators said Doyle’s last-minute changes killed a compromise they negotiated a few weeks ago. Doyle said he never agreed to that compromise.
Rep. Brett Davis, R-Oregon, one of the sponsors of the Republican-backed bill, said, “There’s no need to lock out these students in the future.”
Another Assembly sponsor, Rep. Dan LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, said, “I’m waiting to hear the justification from the administration for the cap.”
Dan Schooff, deputy secretary of the state Department of Administration, told the Assembly Education Committee on Monday that the enrollment limit would amount to a “breather” while the schools are studied. “These schools will shut down if we do not take action and a bill doesn’t get to the governor’s desk,” he said.
Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for the year by mid-March.
The future of virtual schools is in doubt because the state Court of Appeals ruled that Virtual Academy, which the Northern Ozaukee School District operates, did not qualify for state aid of $5,845 a student. The district has appealed to the state Supreme Court, which has not yet said whether it would accept the case.
Davis said he would ask the committee, of which he is chairman, to pass the bill with no enrollment limit today. That would clear it for full Assembly debate Thursday.
— Copyright © 2008, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / Distributed by McClatchy
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