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Parents say school vouchers offer spiritual choice

By Margo Spann, mspann@wisctv.com
Published On: Aug 16 2013 06:50:29 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 17 2013 09:16:51 AM CDT

BELOIT, Wis. -

Many Rock County parents are eager for students to head back to school, for some that could mean going to a different school.

Rock County Christian School is one of 25 schools selected for Wisconsin's Voucher Program.

Back-to-school shopping is on hold for 9-year-old Delaina Conley. She's one of many students hoping to take advantage of the statewide school voucher program.

"I wanted to get her somewhere where she can have the spiritual aspect intertwined with her education," says Delaina's mom Dedria Hodges.

Hodges says she's also looking for smaller class sizes than what Delaina is getting in the Beloit School District. Delaina says she wouldn't be bullied as much if she went to the Christian school. "When you walk past people they won't be bragging about their clothes and stuff and what they have -- they'll all just be the same," says Conley.

Lisa Campton's four boys are currently enrolled in the Clinton School District. She says the rural district has similar values to Rock County Christian School-- but she's still hoping all of them will get vouchers."When I heard about this opportunity I'm like, yeah, maybe this is a door God is opening so my boys can come back to Rock County Christian School."

"We have 102 approved vouchers and 55 of them are new students, 47 are returning students, says Tim Befus, administrator, Rock Co. Christian School. Befus says they're guaranteed at least 10 students will be using a voucher, but that number could go as high as 20 students. While he says the tax dollars will be helpful to them, he recognizes the private school should expects some scrutiny.

"We're not afraid to show test results, we're not afraid to do audits. I think that's the way it should be done, so we welcome that as long as it doesn't change who we are and what we do we welcome the scrutiny of our school." Befus said.

It's unclear how this will impact local school districts. Beloit says they welcome the competition. "We're used to the competition so we've steadily been making progress on student achievement, and making sure we have programs parents want and students are interested in so we've always had that mindset we need to be competitive," says Melissa Badger with the Beloit School District.

Statewide, only 500 students who applied will receive a taxpayer-funded voucher. Next week,  the Department of Public Instruction will randomly draw 10 students from each of the 25 schools.

All the remaining student applicants will then go into one big drawing for the 250 vouchers that are left.

Watch this story on the Channel3000 video page, here 

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