APPLETON - As most students head back to class, some private schools in Northeast Wisconsin say they finally know who might be attending.
The statewide private school voucher lottery didn't happen until mid-August. Now one private school says most of the vouchers have been distributed and accepted by families.
"After the summer we've been through, it's over. The bell rang, and the kids are in the seats,” Decon Ray DuBois of the Xavier School System in Appleton.
The Xavier School system says some of those students, like Sergio and Emma Arellano, are starting fresh with private school vouchers.
"We always wanted a better school but it was too expensive,” said Emma Arellano, their mother.
Arellano says she found out they were accepted to the program just six days before school started.
"It was a surprise. I was ready for the public school. I had the supplies and everything. We were ready for the other school,” said Arellano.
Xavier school system administrators say 55 students received vouchers through the Department of Public Instruction to attend its schools.
DuBois says 54 students have accepted those vouchers as of August 30.
"We're different from the statewide trend where in our specific situation the families were 50/50 returning families and new families."
Emma Arellano says she came from Mexico more than 20 years ago for a better life.
And she says she's trying to provide opportunities for her children.
"She said, 'But, oh Mommy, my friends,' but I said, ‘Ok, we have to have sacrifice other things for this for a better future,’” said Arellano.
A few days in, her children say it's hard to start anew, away from old classmates
"I miss them and they're nice to me but these friends are nice to me too,” said the younger Emma, a third grader.
But they say they're excited to learn.
"I like reading the books and learning here and playing and all that,” said Sergio, a fifth grader.
Looking forward to the school year, now that they know where they'll be attending.
The GRACE school system in Green Bay says 41 students have received vouchers for its school system, which starts Tuesday.They do not know how many have accepted those vouchers, or if new students will be selected in additional rounds of the DPI's lottery.
The Department of Public Instruction says it could take until mid-October until all selections are final.
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