National Expert: Wisconsin Per Pupil Spending Likely to Fall Below National Average

A national expert on school funding says K-12 school spending is Wisconsin is “flat-lining” at the same time it is growing in other states.

Michael Griffith, a senior policy analyst at the nonpartisan Education Commission of the States, says that while 44 states are showing growth in per pupil spending at the K-12 level, Wisconsin is among a handful of states bucking that trend.

As a result, Griffith says, Wisconsin will be below the national average in per pupil spending unless Wisconsin’s Legislature acts to provide more resources for schools in the proposed state budget currently being debated in Madison.

Speaking Monday at “Pivotal Points: A Forum on Key Wisconsin Education Issues as Big Decisions Approach” held at the Marquette University Law School, Griffith said per pupil K-12 spending by states increased nationally last year by about 4.5 percent and is expected to grow this year by about 4 percent.

K-12 spending is stagnant or falling in only six states—Kansas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Louisiana, Alaska and Wisconsin—according to Griffith. Those states all face tight finances at the state level. In Louisiana and Alaska, two petroleum producing states, Griffith says the pinch is due to declining revenues due to the drop in oil and gas prices. In the other states, including Wisconsin, it is due to budget pinches caused by other factors.

See video of the discussion (go to 30 min mark).

Read Milwaukee Journal Sentinel coverage

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