The newly-formed Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding will hold its first meeting—an informational public hearing—Thursday, Dec. 14 at 10:00 AM in Room 412 East of the State Capitol. (View meeting notice.)
The Commission will hear a presentation from the Department of Public Instruction and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Testimony will be from invited speakers only. Continue reading School Funding Commission to Hold First Meeting Dec. 14
With property tax bills set to be mailed this week, school property taxes are likely to come under scrutiny once again.
Although per pupil revenue limits on school districts meant to hold down property taxes were unchanged by the Legislature, 2017-18 school levies totaled $4.945 billion, a slight increase of $87.1 million (1.8%) over the previous year, according to Dept. of Public Instruction (DPI) figures, and below the rate of inflation.
That increase in gross school levies will be more or less offset by an $87 million increase in the school levy credit, through which the state directly reduces the net tax due on taxpayers’ bills. Continue reading Statewide School Tax Levies Up Less Than Inflation
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), the leaders of each house of the Wisconsin Legislature, today announced the formation of a Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding to be chaired by Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) (pictured at left from the Legislative Advocacy Conference). WASB Government Relations Director Dan Rossmiller has been appointed to the commission.
The press release announcing the formation of the commission indicates, “The commission will hold its first meeting this month. Beginning next year, the commission will travel around the state conducting public hearings to learn more about school funding issues in Wisconsin. Recommendations will be given to legislative leaders before the end of the session.” Continue reading Legislative Leaders Announce Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding
The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) recently released its annual memo estimating state support for K-12 education in the previous school year. The memo provides information on the estimated level of state support provided for K-12 education statewide and to individual school districts in the 2016-17 school year.
Continue reading Figures on State Support for K-12 Education, Public School Districts Released
November 7 saw 10 school referendum questions on the ballot with 7 out of 10 being approved by voters. The passage rate of 70% was somewhat higher than April although there were far fewer questions on the ballot. April 2017 saw 40 out of 65 questions approved for an overall passage rate of 62%. November 2016 had an 82% approval rate and April 2016 saw 77% pass.
This continues a trend of historically high voter support for public school referenda. During the period from 1996-2010, for example, only 44% of referenda to exceed the revenue limits were approved by voters, according to the figures compiled by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. Continue reading Nov. 7 School Referenda Results: 70% Pass
As expected, Governor Scott Walker over the weekend formally announced his intention to run for a third term. Also, as expected, it seems likely that investing in public schools will be a major pillar in his re-election platform.
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
He did not mention (the Foxconn) project in Sunday’s speech and instead focused on his policies that froze tuition at University of Wisconsin campuses, cut taxes and invested more money in public schools. He said he would also combat the spread of opioids and other drugs that have claimed lives across the state. Continue reading Gov. Walker Formally Announces Re-Election Bid
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