November 26, 2003 TO THE HONORABLE MEMBERS OF THE ASSEMBLY: I am vetoing Assembly Bill 261 in its entirety. This bill allows any student in the state to attend a charter school created under section 118.40 (2) (r), Wisconsin Statutes (the Milwaukee charter school program). The bill also includes language providing the board of school directors for Milwaukee public schools the same authority as other school boards to transport kids to non-public schools and expands that authority for all school districts to include charter schools.
I am vetoing this bill because I object to the expansion of enrollment in the Milwaukee charter school program to include pupils residing outside of the Milwaukee Public Schools District. The original and still valid intent of this program was to allow the City of Milwaukee, the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and the Milwaukee Area Technical College to create charter schools in order to provide educational options for students residing in the Milwaukee Public Schools attendance area. Expanding this program to include students who do not reside in the City of Milwaukee does not serve the interests of Milwaukee students and may, in fact, create incentives for these charter schools to focus their efforts on attracting non-Milwaukee residents, rather than improving educational programs for Milwaukee children.
Furthermore, since the Milwaukee charter school program is funded by reallocating general school aids from the state's 426 school districts, a greatly expanded charter school program will reduce state resources available to all public school districts at the expense of increased property taxes.
Finally, modifications to charter school law should not be considered in isolation, but as a part of a comprehensive reform effort that benefits all of Milwaukee's school children. Respectfully submitted, JIM DOYLE Governor