Forecast for Day at the Capitol: Good meetings

Our prediction is that whatever the weather, you will have good meetings with your lawmakers during the WASB Day at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 13.

We’ve arranged meetings for you and will have informative presentations, handouts and leave behind materials for you. Your role is to make sure legislators don’t take resources for schools for granted.

With talk about the Legislature possibly scrapping the governor’s budget and starting from scratch, your voice telling the legislators who represent you to follow the public’s lead and provide necessary resources for schools is more important than ever!

The climate for funding public schools is positive. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • In the most recent Marquette Law School Poll (Jan. 2019), 55% of respondents said they prefer increasing funding for K-12 public schools, substantially more that the 39% who say they prefer reducing property taxes, while 73% say they support a major increase in state aid for special education.
  • Proof of support for increased funding is that last November local voters approved 77 out of 82 school referenda on the ballot (94 percent), including 35 of 38 requests to exceed  revenue limits (92 percent).
  • Gov. Evers has proposed a state budget that increases funding for K-12 education by $1.4 billion (10 percent), including a $606 million increase in special education categorical aid, increases in per pupil revenue limits and a return to aligning future revenue limit increase with inflation.
  • A bi-partisan Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding has endorsed significant funding increases for schools, including many recommendations that overlap with the governor’s budget proposal.

While those are all positive signs, school leaders can’t afford to be complacent.  We need to tell our stories so schools are not lost in the shuffle of competing budget priorities.  We have momentum on our side.  Now is the time to seize the moment.

To help ensure that you have good meetings, please think about and come prepared to discuss the following questions with your legislators:

  • How much does you district have to transfer from its general fund (Fund 10) to your special education fund (Fund 27) to cover special education costs that are not being reimbursed by the state (thru special education categorical aid)?
    • How much has your district had to transfer over the past 10-year period during which the level of special education funding has been frozen and the reimbursement rate has dropped from 29% to 24.5%?
    • What cuts to regular education programming and staff would you be able to avoid if the governor’s proposal were adopted? What regular education programs (e.g., STEM, career & tech ed, AP, etc.) might this allow you to add or enhance?
    • How would the additional special education aid enhance the programs and services you provide to your special education students (e.g., more aides for students who need additional attention, new or improved equipment, etc.)
    • How might freeing up additional general fund money allow you to avoid short-term borrowing or having to go to referendum for revenue limit relief?
  • How much would your district’s budgeting and planning be simplified if you have predictable, sustainable increases in revenue limits that would keep pace with inflation?
    • How might this enable to avoid or delay having to go to a referendum for revenue limit relief?
    • How would this allow you to better attract and retain quality teachers?
  • How much would your districts issues around teacher shortages be improved if changes made to the state retirement system in 2013 were rolled back to remove disincentives for retired teachers to return to the classroom?

These questions will help you frame what your “asks” will be and encourage you to add your local story and examples. They’re designed to help prepare you to “tell your district’s story” — one of the keys to effective advocacy.

We’re looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday!