Each participating voucher school is required to commission an end-of-year financial audit, which must be submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction by September 1st following the end of the school year. The reports may be updated by the schools subsequent to the original filing. These audited reports include enrollment and expenditure data that are used by the state to calculate the exact amount of the state payment to each voucher school. The 1999-2000 Financial Information Reports received from DPI in August 2001 were current as of July 2001. This report relies largely on data from these Financial Information Reports for enrollment and expenditure data for both years, 1998-1999 and 1999-2000. The tuition data for private schools for both years that are utilized in this study were provided by the voucher schools and collected from one or more of the following three sources: (1) Empowering Parents for Informed Choices in Education (EPIC), an on-line web site (http://www.uwm.edu/EPIC/) organized by the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee's Center for Urban Initiatives and Research together with Partners Advancing Values in Education (PAVE), which invites all Milwaukee private schools to list information about the school including tuition rates; (2) the reports of the Public Policy Forum, a Wisconsin-based non-partisan policy organization that collects voucher school tuition rates; and (3) by information provided directly from the schools themselves, where data were not otherwise available. Using these sources, tuition rates were obtained for 82 of the 91 schools. Of the remaining nine schools, one did not report tuition information, two reported that tuition rates vary with family income, and six schools enroll only voucher or MPS students and, therefore, have no need to establish a tuition rate.
For the 1998-1999 school year, tuition data were available from one additional source, An Evaluation: Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, a state audit conducted by the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau (WLAB) in accordance with legislation authorizing the Milwaukee voucher program and released in February 2000. For more information on this audit and the tuition data it provides, please see last year's report ("The 40 Percent Surcharge: How Taxpayers Overpay for Milwaukee's Private School Voucher Program").
From 1998-1999 to 1999-2000 there were some changes in the roster of schools participating in the voucher program. DPI reports 91 private schools participating in the voucher program in 1999-2000, an increase from 82 schools in 1998-1999. Of the 82 schools from the first year, 76 carried over to the next year, and one, North Milwaukee Christian, dropped out of the program. The remaining five schools in fact continued in the program, after merging with other schools and forming a new entity, not under the same name. Specifically, Saint Matthew and Saint Lawrence, both voucher schools in 1998-1999, merged and in 1999-2000 were listed as a single, new voucher school, Prince of Peace; Saint Augustine, a 1998-1999 voucher school, merged with Immaculate Conception, which was not a voucher school, to form Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Academy, a new voucher school in 1999-2000; and Holy Spirit and Saint Barbara, both voucher schools, merged to form a new voucher school, St Raphael.
To enable comparability across the two years of the study, first year data for the merged schools were pooled and treated as a single school. Twelve schools were totally new participants in the program in 1999-2000.
In 1999-2000, 31 voucher schools - all of them religious schools - had a dual tuition structure whereby they published separate tuition rates for parishioners and non-parishioners. There had been 16 religious schools charging dual tuition rates the previous year. Generally, this involves charging students who are parishioners of the school's sponsoring church a lower tuition amount, although there are three schools in 1999-2000 charging their own parishioners more in tuition, not less. In the absence of data on the number of parishioners and non-parishioners among each school's voucher students - data that are neither collected by DPI nor reported anywhere else - there is no way to actually calculate how much the state is making in overpayments at these 31 schools, since it cannot be precisely known what the tuition charges would have been for these students, had they been tuition-paying. In order to conduct the analysis for this report, in the absence of more complete information, the assumption was made that half of the voucher students at each of these 31 voucher schools were parish members and half were not. This was done by simply using the average of the two tuition rates (parishioner and non-parishioner). To the extent that the majority of students at a parish school were in fact parishioners the use of this parishioner/non-parishioner average understates the size of the voucher overpayment, since - at least in 28 of the 31 schools - the lower parishioner tuition rate would result in a higher overpayment. Conversely, if in fact a majority of voucher students are not parish members, this assumption would result in the amount of the voucher overpayments being overestimated.
Throughout the report we have reported results using the parishioner/non-parishioner average tuition rate for these 31 dual tuition schools. However, it is possible to calculate the possible high-low range of tuition overpayments by making two extreme assumptions: For example, if it turns out that 100 percent of the voucher students at these 31 dual tuition schools were parishioners in 1999-2000, the total amount of the voucher overpayment - for all 91 schools - would be approximately $16,875,000. If none were parishioners, the total overpayment would be only $16,183,000. The range of possible values for the tuition overpayment is $693,000. Similarly, in 1998-1999, if all voucher students were in fact parishioners, the total amount of the voucher overpayment would have been $11,754,000, while if none were parishioners, the total would have been $11,277,000. The high-low range in 1998-1999 was approximately $480,000.
Many schools in the study offer part-time kindergarten, but few report differential tuition rates for varying types of kindergarten programs. Although it may well be that these schools do in fact charge a lower tuition to part-time kindergarten students, this report consistently utilizes tuition data as reported in the three sources identified above. The calculations for both years assume that schools offering kindergarten charge full-time tuition to part-time kindergartners, unless the schools specifically report otherwise. To the extent that any schools do not in fact do this, but instead charge less than full tuition to part-time kindergartners, the actual amount of the tuition overpayment is higher than has been estimated in this report.