2017 - 2018 LEGISLATURE
January 19, 2018 - Introduced by Senators Darling, Vukmir and Wanggaard,
cosponsored by Representatives
Felzkowski, Fields, Jagler, Knodl, Krug,
Mursau, Ott, Sanfelippo, Spiros, Thiesfeldt, Petryk and Crowley. Referred
to Committee on Education.
1An Act to create
20.255 (3) (fs), 20.255 (3) (ft) and 115.49 of the statutes; 2relating to: an education savings account program for gifted and talented
3pupils, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, granting
4rule-making authority, and making an appropriation.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill creates an educational savings account program for gifted and talented
pupils. Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, the bill requires the Department of
Public Instruction to award $1,000 scholarships to certain gifted and talented pupils
and to credit the scholarships to individual accounts established and maintained by
DPI. Under the bill, DPI may award no more than 2,000 scholarships in any school
Under the bill, a pupil is eligible for a gifted and talented scholarship if the pupil
satisfies the following criteria:
1. The pupil is enrolled in a public school, including an independent charter
school, or a private school participating in a parental choice program or the Special
Needs Scholarship Program.
2. The pupil is identified as a gifted and talented pupil because the pupil
demonstrates evidence of high performance capability in an intellectual, creative,
artistic, leadership, or other specific academic area or because the pupil scored in the
top 5 percent on a pupil assessment required to be administered under state law.
3. The pupil satisfies the income eligibility criteria under federal law for a free
or reduced-price lunch.
In order to receive a scholarship under the program, an eligible pupil must
apply to DPI and the pupil's parent or guardian must agree 1) to comply with
compulsory attendance requirements, 2) not to accept a payment, refund, or rebate
from a person who provides a service or product that is purchased with a scholarship,
and 3) to use the scholarship only for eligible expenses. The bill provides that an
eligible expense is any of the following incurred to educate the gifted and talented
pupil at an eligible educational provider: tuition and fees, textbooks, payments to a
licensed or accredited tutor, payments to purchase a curriculum, tuition and fees for
a private online learning program, fees for Advanced Placement exams, private
music or art lessons, and any other expenses approved by DPI. The bill defines an
eligible educational provider as a public school, including an independent charter
school, a private school participating in a parental choice program or the SNSP, any
nonprofit organization approved by DPI, a licensed or accredited tutor, and any other
provider approved by DPI.
The bill directs DPI to establish and maintain an individual account for each
pupil awarded a scholarship under the program. The bill specifies that an account
is a record of the scholarships awarded to and disbursements made on behalf of a
pupil. The bill directs DPI to develop, by rule, a system to promptly disburse money
from a pupil's account for eligible expenses. The system developed by DPI may
include direct payments to providers and reimbursements to parents and guardians
for eligible expenses.
Under the bill, any scholarship credited to a pupil's account remains in his or
her account until it is disbursed for an eligible expense or until the account is closed.
A pupil's account is closed when the pupil graduates high school, reaches age 21, is
no longer eligible to participate in the program, or is suspended or barred from the
program. DPI deposits any amount remaining in a pupil's account when the account
is closed in the state's general fund.
This bill allows DPI to contract with a private, nonprofit entity to administer
the education savings account program for gifted and talented pupils. However, DPI
may not execute a contract for the administration of the program unless the contract
is approved by the Joint Committee on Finance through a 14-day passive review
Finally, the bill requires the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct a performance
audit of the first year of the educational savings account program and file its report
with the legislature by January 31, 2020.
For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as
an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
20.005 (3) (schedule) of the statutes: at the appropriate place, insert 2
the following amounts for the purposes indicated:
- See PDF for table
20.255 (3) (fs) of the statutes is created to read:
(fs) Education savings account for gifted and talented pupils;
A sum sufficient to pay the costs of a contract to administer the education 4
savings account program under s. 115.49 (9).
20.255 (3) (ft) of the statutes is created to read:
(ft) Education savings accounts for gifted and talented pupils;
. The amounts in the schedule for scholarships under s. 115.49.
115.49 of the statutes is created to read:
9115.49 Education savings account; gifted and talented pupils. (1) 10Definitions.
In this section:
(a) “Account” means a record of scholarships awarded to a pupil under this 12
section and disbursements made on behalf of the pupil under this section.
(b) “Education savings account” is an account established for a pupil under sub. 14
(c) “Eligible educational provider” means any of the following:
1. A participating school.
2. A licensed or accredited tutor.
3. Any other provider approved by the department.
(d) “Eligible expense” means an expense for which a parent or guardian may 3
use a scholarship under sub. (5) (b).
(e) “Eligible pupil” means a pupil who satisfies the requirements under sub. (2).
(f) “Gifted and talented pupil” means a pupil who satisfies any of the following:
1. The pupil demonstrates evidence of high performance capability in 7
intellectual, creative, artistic, leadership, or specific academic areas and needs 8
services or activities not ordinarily provided in a regular school program in order to 9
fully develop such capabilities.
2. On a subject area assessment that is required to be administered under s. 11
118.30, the pupil scores in the top 5 percent of all pupils who took the assessment in 12
that grade in that school year.
(g) “Institution of higher education” means an institution within the University 14
of Wisconsin System, a technical college, a tribally controlled college, or a private, 15
nonprofit institution of higher education located in this state.
(h) “Participating school” means a public school, including a charter school 17
authorized under s. 118.40 (2r) or (2x), a private school participating in a program 18
under s. 115.7915, 118.60, or 119.23, an institution of higher education, and any 19
nonprofit organization that has been approved by the department.
20(2) Eligibility requirements.
A pupil is eligible for a scholarship under this 21
section if all of the following apply:
(a) The pupil is enrolled in a public school, including a charter school 23
authorized under s. 118.40 (2r) or (2x), or is attending a private school under s. 24
115.7915, 118.60, or 119.23.
(b) A school board, operator of a charter school authorized under s. 118.40 (2r) 2
or (2x), or governing body of a private school participating in a program under s. 3
115.7915, 118.60, or 119.23 identifies the pupil as a gifted and talented pupil.
(c) The pupil satisfies the income eligibility criteria for a free or reduced-price 5
lunch under 42 USC 1758
(a) Subject to par. (b) and sub. (4), beginning in the 2018-19 7
school year and in each school year thereafter, the department shall award a $1,000 8
scholarship to an eligible pupil who applies for a scholarship under this section if the 9
pupil's parent or guardian enters into an agreement with the department under sub. 10
(5). The department shall credit the scholarship to the pupil's education savings 11
account no later than the first day of the school term.
(b) The department may not award more than 2,000 scholarships under this 13
section in any school year.
14(4) Application process.
(a) To apply for a scholarship under this section, the 15
parent or guardian of an eligible pupil shall submit an application, on a form 16
provided by the department, to the department between the first Monday in 17
February and the last weekday in April of the school year immediately preceding the 18
school year for which the eligible pupil wishes to receive a scholarship.
(b) If the department receives applications from more than 2,000 eligible pupils 20
in any school year, the department shall, by June 1, determine which applications 21
to accept on a random basis, except that the department shall give preference to the 22
following in accepting applications, in the order of preference listed:
1. Pupils who received a scholarship in the previous school year.
2. Pupils who were on the waiting list in the previous school year.