The Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding met for the first time yesterday (Dec. 14), holding an informational public hearing that featured presentations from the staff of the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) as well as the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Those presentations led to a lively question and answer session between presenters and Commission members.
The entire hearing was broadcast live on Wisconsin Eye, our state’s version of C-SPAN. A video recording of the entire hearing should be uploaded to the Wisconsin Eye website and available for viewing on Monday.
Continue reading Commission Begins Tackling Wisconsin School Funding
Fears that the state might not be able to comfortably afford the sizable increase in state school aids approved in the 2017-19 state budget may be eased by news that Wisconsin closed its fiscal year on June 30 with a larger than expected ending balance.
The state ended Fiscal Year 2017 with a $579 million surplus in its main account, the second largest closing balance since 2000. That figure was up $112 million from the previous projection of $467 million as revenues were up and spending was down from earlier forecasts.
Continue reading State Finishes Fiscal Year With Better Than Expected Ending Balance
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 Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC) today approved the K-12 education provisions of the 2017-19 state budget on a 12-4 party-line vote. The $639 million GOP K-12 package includes the following key provisions:
Per Pupil Categorical Aid Funding Increase—Provide all districts with an increase of $200 per pupil in 2017-18 and $204 per pupil in 2018-19. Payments would total $450 per pupil in 2017-18 and $654 per pupil in 2018-19.
Continue reading JFC-Approved K-12 Package Increases Per Pupil Aid; Boosts Low Spending Districts
Here we compare the Senate Republican plan released on July 12 and the Assembly Republican plan released on June 6 on some of the major K-12 provisions in the state budget bill and the WASB position on those provisions:
Per-Pupil Categorical Aid
Senate/Governor: Increase per-pupil aid $200 in 2017-18 and $204 in 2018-19.
Assembly: Increase per-pupil aid $150 in 2017-18 and $200 in 2018-19.
WASB: has supported the $200/$204 per pupil increase since it was first proposed by the Governor. Continue reading Comparing Senate, Assembly GOP K-12 Budget Plans
At a Capitol press conference, Senate Republicans today released key details behind their budget proposal and a set of memos from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau summarizing the plan.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said that the Senate GOP proposal includes all actions taken by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) through June 15, plus what his caucus worked on as well as the agreements the Senate has reached with the Assembly on K-12 funding. Fitzgerald sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos asking for the Assembly GOP’s response to the Senate proposal in the hope that the JFC can meet and complete all outstanding issues in one session.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Latest state budget plan increases money for schools, but local taxpayers share costs
Among the key K-12 provisions affecting public schools are the following: Continue reading State Senate Republicans Unveil Budget Plan