“I want to recognize the Joint Finance Committee for voting to approve $500 million in increased investments in public schools. The proposal addressed top priorities of the WASB including the $200/$204 per pupil increase in spendable resources, the first increase in special education categorical aid in more than a decade and increases for student mental health services. We also want to recognize the committee for helping historically low-spending districts by including an adjustment to the low-revenue ceiling. These items were important priorities on the WASB legislative agenda.
“Although $500 million is a significant investment, it is significantly less than what Gov. Tony Evers proposed ($1.4 billion) as well as less than what the Legislature approved in Gov. Scott Walker’s last budget ($635 million).
“We are hopeful the Legislature and Gov. Evers will continue to have discussions on the education budget. We look forward to working with all parties to meet the needs of all Wisconsin students.”
WASB Executive Director John Ashley issued the following statement in reaction to Gov. Evers’ 2019-21 state budget proposal:
The WASB commends Gov. Tony Evers for proposing a state budget that includes a significant boost in state investment in our K-12 public schools as well as important reforms to our school funding formula.
Additional and substantial state investments are critical to ensuring that our state’s 421 school districts can serve our 860,000 students appropriately and equitably.
The continued broad public support for greater investment in public education shown in statewide opinion surveys, the continued willingness of local voters to support school-related referenda, and the strong public interest in the work of the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding all suggest that now is the time to make significant improvements in the way our state funds its public schools.
We thank Gov. Evers for prioritizing public education in his state budget proposal and pledge to work with him and the state Legislature to secure support for a final state budget that provides the critical resources our school districts need.
School board members who received board member recognition awards at recent WASB Fall Regional meetings will be able to find their photographs posted on the WASB’s Facebook page.
Photos from this week’s meetings in WASB Regions 1 (Trego) & 2 (Minocqua) are currently posted.
Photos taken at last week’s meetings in WASB Regions 4 (Eau Claire), 5 (Rothschild) & 6 (Whitehall) will be posted soon.
Continue reading Board member recognition award winners’ photos available
The Wisconsin Association of School Boards applauds the school safety legislative package announced today by Gov. Walker that represents a significant state investment of $100 million to help keep our students safe. We appreciate the opportunity to work with the governor’s office on the development of this proposal.
While we will conduct further review of all the details, creating an Office of School Safety at the Department of Justice should be a great resource for school districts. We also support the inclusion of preventative initiatives and intervention-related training in the comprehensive package, rather than just measures to improve school facilities.
It is our hope that this package, which includes similar provisions to State Superintendent Tony Evers and legislative Democrat school safety proposals, garners bipartisan support from the state Legislature.
The state budget signed into law today (Sept. 21) significantly invests in our public school students and districts, one of the best investments we can make as a state. The substantial increases in per-pupil aid and other categorical aids are welcome and vitally important to our public school districts that serve the vast majority of students in Wisconsin and are tasked with preparing all of them for college and/or careers.
I also applaud the mental health-related supports for students and school districts included in the state budget. These needs have been overlooked for too long.
I am disappointed that neither revenue limit relief for low-spending districts nor an increase/expansion of sparsity aid were included in the final budget. Both are targeted to school districts that have special challenges and this was a lost opportunity. I am also disappointed with the further expansions of private school vouchers and special needs vouchers which continue to take us down the path of funding dual education systems when we have not been able to maintain even inflationary increases for our constitutionally mandated public school system. In addition, several policy items were included in the budget (e.g. teacher and administrator licensure changes, scheduling of referendum restrictions and restrictions for energy savings projects) that will impact the efficient operations of school districts.
Ultimately, I understand that a budget comes down to making hard choices with available resources and there will be provisions that school board members statewide both support and oppose. On behalf of all 422 locally elected school boards in Wisconsin, I want to thank the governor and members of the Legislature for their public service and for the positive items included for public schools. I also look forward to continuing to work with both the governor and lawmakers for the remainder of this legislative session.
Read: WASB Summary of Key 2017-19 State Budget Provisions for Public Schools
The WASB thanks the Joint Finance Committee for voting to approve significant investments in public schools, including fully funding Governor Walker’s proposal to increase per-pupil aid. We strongly support removing the “strings” of the healthcare cost shift mandate to allow school districts to receive the proposed increases in per-pupil aid and are pleased JFC members made this change. We also want to thank the committee members for allowing historically low-spending districts to catch up with their peers by including a long overdue adjustment to the low-revenue ceiling.
The WASB also appreciates that JFC members support providing schools with the resources to address the mental health needs of their students. These items were important priorities on our legislative agenda.
There are items in this package that our members have concerns with and we hope to work with lawmakers as the budget moves through the Assembly and Senate to improve the overall K-12 package.
The Assembly Republican school funding plan includes provisions we support and it is a positive sign that Assembly GOP legislators recognize the need to increase state aid for school districts. We appreciate and strongly support removing the “strings” of the healthcare cost shift mandate and how funding needs to be budgeted per school building to receive the proposed increases in per-pupil aid. The WASB also supports raising the low-revenue ceiling to help historically low-spending districts and increased funding for high cost special education aid. There are a wide range of other provisions included in the proposal that we are still reviewing.
However, we are concerned that this plan backs away from the governor’s proposed per-pupil categorical aid investments. The WASB does do not support reducing the governor’s proposed increase by $50 per pupil in 2017-18. The governor’s original proposal, for the first time in several budgets, provides nearly an inflationary increase in state aid to almost all school districts in the state.
Overall, we hope legislators will support the governor’s investments in per-pupil aid at the $200 and $204 per pupil level while also supporting local control and incorporating the positive proposals from the Assembly GOP on the low- revenue ceiling.
-John H. Ashley is Executive Director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards