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Private School Choice Programs: Information for Schools

The Private School Choice Programs (PSCP) includes the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), the Racine Parental Choice Program (RPCP) and the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program or statewide program (WPCP). Schools participating in the program receive a state aid payment for each eligible student on behalf of the student’s parent or guardian. 

Important Dates and Reminders

COVID-19 Updates

Parents should see the Parent Page for information specific to parents of students and prospective students of the Choice program.

A summary of common questions and items that have changed for schools participating in the Choice programs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak is below. Unless otherwise noted, there have not been changes to the Choice program requirements at this time. Pursuant to the authority granted the department in 2019 Wisconsin Act 185, the DPI has waived certain requirements for the 2019-20 school year and changed certain due dates as explained below. The memos submitted to the Legislative Reference Bureau listing all of the waivers and due date changes made by DPI are available on the Statutes and Rules webpage.

School Choice Emails to Private Schools

CARES Act
The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, provides economic stimulus to individuals, businesses, hospitals, and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) in response to the economic distress caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
 

MPCP and RPCP Open Application Periods
The due date for schools participating in the MPCP and/or RPCP to amend their open application periods for the 2020-21 school year has been extended from January 10, 2020 to June 15, 2020. The school’s Choice administrator must email the following information by June 15, 2020 to privateschoolchoice@dpi.wi.gov to amend application period(s): school name, program (MPCP and/or RPCP), and application periods that the school is adding (July, August, September, October, November, and/or December) for the applicable program.

Schools must have indicated on their Notice of Intent to Participate (ITP) in the Online Application System (OAS) by January 10, 2020, that the school would participate in the applicable program. Please see the Application Process Bulletin available at Choice Programs: School Application Processing for additional information regarding open application periods.

WPCP Application Deadlines

Wisconsin Act 185, signed by Governor Evers on April 15, 2020, changes two deadlines related to student applications for the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP), for the 2020-21 school year:

  1. WPCP Application Period Deadline - The deadline for a private school participating in the WPCP to accept WPCP applications and receive supporting documentation was changed from April 16, 2020 to May 14, 2020.
  2. WPCP Application Verification Deadline - The deadline for a private school participating in the WPCP to complete the verification process of applications in the Online Application System was changed from May 1, 2020 to May 29, 2020

Due to these deadline changes, schools participating in the WPCP will submit the Final WPCP Seats Report in the Online Application System between June 1, 2020 and June 4, 2020.

Paycheck Protection Program-Choice/SNSP Reserve Balance Impacts (UPDATED)The department has waived the 2019-20 requirement to include the forgiven portion of the Paycheck Protection Program loan that was used for educational programming purposes as offsetting government assistance revenue in the Choice Programs and SNSP Reserve Balance Schedules. The department does not have waiver authority for the 2020-21 school year, so the department will begin policy discussions as soon as we are able on amending the applicable administrative rules for the 2020-21 school year.

Inclusion of COVID-19 Related Expenses as Eligible Education Expenses

COVID-19 related expenses may be included as eligible education expenses if they meet the requirements in Wis. Stats. 115.7915, 118.60, and 119.23 and Wis. Admin. Code PI 35, 48, and 49, respectively. The requirements are explained in the Financial Audit related bulletins at https://dpi.wi.gov/sms/choice-programs/bulletins and https://dpi.wi.gov/sms/special-needs-scholarship. As long as expenses related to the COVID-19 outbreak meet the eligible education expenses requirements, they can be included as an eligible education expense.

Virtual Learning/Online Learning

Schools that participate in the Choice program may use virtual instruction, which counts toward the school required Hours of Instruction (see Hours of Instruction below). Virtual Learning/Online Learning resources are available on the DPI’s COVID-19 webpage under the Instructional Areas section.

Hours of Instruction

The DPI has waived the hours of instruction requirement for the 2019-20 school year. For any schools that included 4-year-old kindergarten pupils in the 0.6 full−time equivalent category on the 2nd Friday in January 2020 Pupil Report, the DPI has also waived the requirement that the school provide at least 87.5 hours of 4−year−old kindergarten outreach activities for the 2019-20 school year. Schools do not need to submit a request for these waivers, they are automatically granted.
 
The DPI has waived the requirement for schools to submit a revised hours of instruction report for the 2019-20 school year. The DPI has also waived the requirement to receive prior DPI approval to end the 2019-20 school year at an earlier date than originally scheduled.
 

May Payment

Per Wis. Stats. §§118.60(4)(c) and 119.23(4)(c) the DPI will process the May state aid payments to eligible Choice schools by direct deposit (ACH) by the end of May, based on each school’s eligible applications and corresponding class list submitted to the DPI in the Online Application System on the 2nd Friday January Count Report.

Providing Application Documentation Electronically

As a reminder, the required application documents can be provided to the school electronically. A school can use a pdf, picture, or print screen of a required application document as long as the document includes all of the required components and Wisconsin law permits copying of the document. There are two specific items that require a complete document. The first is that the school must obtain and retain the first two pages of the federal income tax return if it is required support for the application. The second is that if a lease agreement is used for residency documentation, the lease provided must be a complete, signed lease. The resources available on the School Application Processing webpage include information on the required components for each required application document. Appendix C of the Residency Documentation Bulletin includes a summary of documents that may be obtained as part of an application that cannot be copied.

January Enrollment Audit

The due date for all Choice Programs and the Special Needs Scholarship Program (SNSP) January 2020 Enrollment Audits is being revised this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak. All schools must submit the January 2020 Enrollment Audit to the DPI by June 30, 2020. The signed Choice program report can be scanned and emailed as a pdf document to dpichoiceauditreports@dpi.wi.gov or mailed to the DPI. The signed SNSP report can be scanned and emailed as a pdf document to snsp@dpi.wi.gov or mailed to the DPI. Schools are encouraged to email the report rather than mail it to the DPI, if possible. Please email questions regarding the January 2020 Enrollment Audits to dpichoiceauditreports@dpi.wi.gov.

Civics Exam

The requirement for students to pass the civics exam in order to graduate from high school in the 2019-20 school year has been waived.

Student Assessments

The "All students" assessment requirements for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year has been waived.  Questions regarding assessments can be sent to Duane Dorn or call 1-608-267-1069.

Surety Bond (Continuing Schools)

Continuing schools that selected the surety bond option in a previous school year must provide a completed surety bond form to the DPI by June 1. This new deadline only applies to the 2020-21 school year. The required bond form was emailed on March 2nd or 3rd to the Choice administrator for these schools.

Annual Budget

Schools that are not new to the Choice program for the 2020-21 school year and new 2020-21 schools that choose the surety bond option are required to complete their annual budget by June 30. Schools may either use the DPI’s 2020-21 Budget and Cash Flow Report available on the School Submitted Reports and Forms website, or prepare their own budget.

Summer School

The DPI has extended the deadline for the Summer School Course List. Schools that have either indicated in the ITP or emailed the DPI that the school will offer a Choice Summer School program must submit a Summer School Course List Report in OAS by June 1 or 5 days before summer course begin, whichever is later. This Summer School 2020 document is intended to help schools understand Choice laws regarding summer school offered for the summer of 2020.

Governing Board Meetings

The DPI has waived the requirement for schools to conduct two governing board meetings with parents during the 2019-20 school year.

Cash and Investment Balance

For the 2019-20 school year, the requirement has been waived that schools have an audited year-end cash and investment balance that is at least as much as the PSCP and SNSP reserve balances combined with certain adjustments. The requirement has also been waived that the school repay the PSCP reserve balance to the DPI if the school does not have the required cash and investment balance in the 2019-20 school year.
 
Schools will still be required to submit a financial audit for the 2019-20 school year that calculates the school’s June 30 reserve balance(s) and must maintain the required cash and investment balance for future school years.

 

Other Topics Available on the DPI COVID-19 Webpage

pointClick the above DPI COVID-19 Webpage link for information on the topics below.
Next, click the "District Administrator Emails From Mike Thompson" drop down and click the update for the date referenced below.

Advanced Placement (AP) Exams “3/20/20 – COVID-19 Updates”

Childcare Donations Request “4/29/20 – COVID-19 Updates”

Department of Health Services (DHS) Request Regarding Temporary Food Benefits “4/29/20 – COVID-19 Updates”

Federal Waivers “4/29/20 – COVID-19 Updates”

Graduation Ceremonies “4/29/20 – COVID-19 Updates” and" ​5/7/20 - DHS Guidance for Graduation"

Mental Health and Wellness "4/8/20 – COVID-19 Updates"

Summer School and Reopening Schools “4/29/20 – COVID-19 Updates”
Please see the Reopening Schools and Madison and Dane County Public Health information. The Summer School information is for public schools. Information regarding changes to Summer School for PSCP Schools will be posted on this page if/when they occur.

Disqualified Persons

Individuals on this list are prohibited from being responsible for administrative, financial, or pupil health and safety matters, for compensation , or serve as a volunteer, at another private school participating in the same program(s) as the school was barred or terminated. Disqualified persons on this list are disqualified for seven years from the date of the state superintendent's order barring or terminating the private school. Disqualified Persons List

Insurance Requirements

Schools that participate in any of the Private School Choice Programs must meet insurance requirements.

 


 

If you have any questions, please e-mail PrivateSchoolChoice@dpi.wi.gov
or call toll free 1-888-245-2732 ext. 3.