About the WPCP
Lakeside Lutheran High School has become part of the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP). For students selected to the WPCP, families receive a voucher from the state of Wisconsin that pays their students' Lakeside tuition in full. The open application period for the statewide Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP) for the 2017-18 school year ran February 1 through April 20, 2017.
Students entering 9th grade and those transferring from a public high school at any grade level are eligible to receive a voucher. For 2017-18, Lakeside opened 70 seats in the program. This number reflects the 10th graders and transfer students in the program in '16-17 with the remainder for new choice students in grades 9-12. There are a total of 54 participating students in the 2017-18 school year.
If my child is enrolling at Lakeside Lutheran and I hope to use the choice program, for which program am I eligible?
Lakeside is in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program. This is both for students who transfer to Lakeside from a public high school and will be in grades 10-12 for 2017-2018, or for 9th graders first enrolling at Lakeside in 2017-2018.
There are two other choice programs in Wisconsin. However, they are confined to parts of the state from which Lakeside does not draw students.
From the WPCP FAQs:
The application period for the 2017-18 school year is from February 1 – April 20, 2017. Late applications will not be accepted for any reason. Parents must complete the on-line student application. Parents must provide residency documentation and income documentation, if applicable, to the school(s) they apply to during the application period or the application is ineligible. Additionally, applicants for the WPCP will have to indicate which of the school attendance requirements they meet. Parents/guardians may either: (a) provide their social security numbers or taxpayer identification number to the school and have the Department of Revenue determine whether the student is income eligible for the program; or (b) use the Department of Public Instruction’s income determination method by answering a series of income questions in the on-line application and providing paper income documentation to the school(s) as directed in the application during the open application period. The school will verify that the student meets the income requirements. Applicants must also provide proof of residency directly to the schools during the open application period. A student can apply to the Choice program at one or more schools during the open application period.
Is Your Family Eligible for Parental Choice?
To meet the income requirements for the program a student’s family must have an Adjusted Gross Income at or below 185% of the federal poverty level with an additional $7,000 allowed for a married couple as illustrated in the table below. 2015-2016 Adjusted Gross Income limits are shown below:
*Add $7,764 for each additional family member above 6
**Family Income is the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) on 1040 tax form
(A clarification: when a married couple applies for a Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP) voucher for their child, $7,000 is SUBTRACTED from their adjusted gross income before comparing it to the income chart. This is considered a benefit to married parents. The rightmost column on the above chart shows what the 2-parent household income could be and still be eligible under the income limits.)
What Does This Mean for Your Family?
Who gets picked for a voucher through WPCP?
Students who receive a voucher through the WPCP to attend Lakeside will receive a voucher again in following years as long as they apply again and provide Lakeside with residency verification (income verification is not needed for those reapplying).
9th grade is considered an ‘entry point’ in the program. This means all incoming 9th graders who meet the income criteria are eligible to be picked. The cap for vouchers in the 2016-17 school year is 1% of the school district’s total enrollment where the family resides. Students are selected by random draw by the Wisconsin DPI.
Is early application advantageous?
The timing of the application does not give the applicant family an advantage. Those who register near the end of the enrollment period have the same opportunity as those who register now. However, an early application is still recommended to be sure that the state and Lakeside receive the correct information.
What happens if more students apply than the seats available?
If more students apply to the WPCP than what Lakeside has opened at a specific grade level, the state of Wisconsin will conduct a lottery to select students for that grade level. On occasion, a selected student may decide not to enroll. If this happens, an opportunity will be extended to a student at that grade level who was not initially selected.
If a Lakeside student is in the choice program, will he or she be treated differently?
Students in the choice program are Lakeside students in every sense of the word. They have the opportunity to ride the bus each day, take the same classes as any other Lakeside student, participate in co-curricular activities. In short, they are Lakeside students.
Only three in-school personnel will know the identity of the choice students. They are the school’s choice administrator (Principal), the assistant to the choice administrator (Guidance Director), and the individual directing the voucher payments (Director of Finance). The student and his/her family will know that they are in the choice program, but the identity of other choice students is unknown to them.
Lakeside will take every step to safeguard the identity of its choice students.
Note that Lakeside’s enrollment policy offers opportunities for school leadership positions only to students who are WELS or ELS members. This includes membership in the A Cappella Choir, leadership positions in student government, leadership positions in daily worship, and the privilege to be a class speaker at graduation.
Does the choice payment cover every Lakeside related expense?
No. The choice payment covers tuition and education-related fees in full. Expenses not covered by the choice payment include:
- personal use items (e.g.: gym clothes);
- social and extracurricular activities (e.g.: May Banquet costs, school dance admission fees, field trip fees, summer band costs, etc);
- rental of musical instruments;
- school meals (Note: Lakeside does participate in the national school lunch program. As a participating school, it offers free and reduced lunches to students whose families qualify. More information here); and
- fees for classes that are not required for graduation (e.g.: Woods class)
There may be other fees for which Lakeside may charge. The above list is not intended to be an exhaustive one. If you have questions, contact Lakeside’s choice administrator (the Principal) for an explanation.
Is my family automatically in the program once we have met the income and residency requirements of the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP)?
Current WPCP guidelines allow 1% of the student population of a school district to participate in the program. For example, if a district has 1,000 students, 1% of that total - 10 students - may participate. Keep in mind that all WPCP schools in the area share those 10 students. If the number of applicants from a district exceeds the 1% , a state-held lottery randomly selects which students receive vouchers. This means that some qualified applicants may not be selected.
The good news is that Lakeside draws from many different districts. 1% of the student population of each district is eligible for the WPCP. Furthermore, there are only a few WPCP schools in the areas from which Lakeside draws its students. The likelihood that a family who applies to and qualifies for the WPCP may send a student to Lakeside under the program is good. Lakeside has 50 available seats in 2016-2017.
Furthermore, Lakeside has financial aid available for its students. All families who feel that they have financial need may apply. Families of prospective WPCP students were encouraged to apply for Lakeside financial aid and may still do so
. If the family does not qualify for choice or is not selected if a lottery is held, they may still be able to send their student to Lakeside with this assistance.
Am I finished with the process after I have completed the online application?
No. All applicant families must additionally provide two pieces of information to Lakeside.
One is proof of residency. This may be a recent utility bill, a cable bill, a tax bill, or another government-issued mailing that proves that the family lives at the location that it claims. Proof of residency is important since the 1% figure (mentioned above) is determined by this.
Secondly, the family must document its financial eligibility. For those using the Department of Revenue (DOR) method, this means providing the Social Security number(s) of the parent(s) to Lakeside. For those using the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) method, this typically means providing their completed 2015 tax forms or W-2s to Lakeside.
Whichever method the family selects, the online application form informs parents what to provide to Lakeside.
Steps to Apply for Parental Choice at Lakeside
- Fill out the online application. The online application needs to be completed through the WPCP website http://sms.dpi.wi.gov/wpcp-statewide. The application window is open from February 1 through April 20, 2017.
- Note: An e-mail address is required to register. Communications on the status of applications and the steps necessary to complete them will be e-mailed to the parent or legal guardian.
- Once an application is electronically submitted, the parent or guardian will be able to correct it online until the final day of the application period. Be sure to record the e-mail address and password that you use. Missing or incorrect information will cause problems processing applications and may cause them to be ineligible.
- Provide Proof of Residency to Lakeside. Lakeside must be given a copy of ONE of the following documents. The document must be current (within the last 3 months):
- Current water, gas, electric, cable, satellite, or landline phone bill. (Cell phone & internet bills NOT acceptable).
- 2016 Property tax bill or current (signed and dated) lease agreement
- Current wage statement (can be a year-end W2)
- Recent government correspondence. Current benefits statements from access.wisconsin.gov
- Families applying to the WPCP for the 1st time need to provide income documentation. It is preferred that families select the DPI Method. The DPI method makes it easier for Lakeside to verify applications.
- DPI Method Documentation (*Preferred Method*) -- Acceptable documentation includes:
Copy the first two pages of your 1040 Federal Income Tax Return for 2016.
Needs to be signed and dated by taxpayers.
If your taxes are not completed, you may submit copies of all 2016 income documentation (employer W2s, 1099s, etc).
If you do not file for income tax, you must provide copies of all other income documentation for 2016 (social security statements, unemployment compensation statements,child support statements, etc).
- DOR Method (Secondary Method): Provide Social Security Number(s) of parents/guardians to LLHS
DPI or DOR?
There are two methods by which families applying to the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP) may determine their financial eligibility:
The DPI (Department of Public Instruction) method is the preferred one. It is a series of income questions that are answered in the initial online application. Once completed, the parent(s) must provide hard copies of income documentation to Lakeside as directed in the application. The school will then verify that the student meets the WPCP's income requirements.
The DOR (Department of Revenue) method requires the parent(s) to provide their social security numbers or taxpayer identification numbers to the school. Lakeside then enters these numbers into the state system and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue determines income eligibility for the program.
Although Lakeside has processed applicant families via both methods, the DPI method is preferable since the parent(s) will immediately know if the family is income eligible for the WPCP.
What else should families do?
It is strongly encouraged that families who apply for the WPCP also select Lakeside classes for the student and complete school enrollment - including financial aid. This helps the school plan for adequate staffing and other resources. See here for more details.
- Know that when the application period closes in April, Lakeside must have all required income and residency documents in its possession. If these materials are not at Lakeside by the end of the school day that the application window closes, the application will be nullified;
- Lakeside telephones applicants who need to submit documents to remind them of this deadline. If you are a WPCP applicant and have recently received a voicemail from Lakeside's Principal, return that phone call as soon as possible;
- After Lakeside receives the necessary income and residency documentation, processing can occur. An applicant may check the status of an application by logging into the online application system where the application was first made. If Lakeside has verified the application, the phrase "The school has completed the verification" will appear on the page; and
- submitting income and residency documentation well before the April 20 deadline makes it possible for Lakeside to follow up if necessary.
Once an application has been made for a Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP) voucher and the applicant parent has met with Lakeside, what's next?
You wait! The application period lasts until April 20 for all families with a current WPCP student(s) to reapply and for all families applying on behalf of a new student. After the application deadline, Lakeside is given ten calendar days to finish processing its applications. Then, the state Department of Public Instruction takes over. It reviews the school's online verification and determines how many applicants will receive a "seat" (i.e.: a voucher). Typically, the state notifies verified applicants in mid-June if they have received a voucher. After that, the parent must notify Lakeside within 14 calendar days if they accept. If acceptance is not done in this time frame, the voucher offer is withdrawn.
In June or July, a Lakeside homeroom teacher will call the family to schedule an appointment for a home visit. This teacher will likely be the child's homeroom teacher for his/her high school years. In the visit, the teacher will share valuable information with the family about in-school registration, Freshmen Orientation Day, the first full day of school for all students, and Freshmen Parent Immersion Night. Lakeside likes to complete home visits before in-school registration in early August.
Whom to Contact with Questions?
Please call the Lakeside office (920-648-2321) or contact Principal James Grasby (firstname.lastname@example.org
) with questions about the program.
Thank you for your help in making this program an asset for Lakeside as we move forward in our mission of bringing a distinct Lutheran education to the high school students of our federation and community.