The K-12 education package adopted by the Joint Finance Committee late last night is certainly a mixed bag for public schools. On the one hand, school boards welcome the committee’s action to restore the proposed $127 million cut to per pupil aid in the first year and to provide additional funding of $100 per pupil in the second year of the budget.
On the other hand, several policy items included in the package we fear could be very detrimental to public schools and our State’s tradition of local control. These proposals, the specifics of which received no public hearings and were put together in private, could siphon a significant amount of funding from public schools as well as raise property taxes. We believe these items need to be fully debated and vetted in the light of day.
In the end, this budget will likely see Wisconsin fall below the national average for per pupil funding for the first time ever. This is a truly disappointing trend for Wisconsin at a time when the vast majority of other states are increasing funding for public schools by 4 to 4.5 percent per year. We are hopeful that the Senate and Assembly take a second look when the budget reaches the houses for their consideration.