The Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding was created to take a comprehensive look into our education funding system. When our state Constitution was written in 1848, public school districts were created and schools were funded directly from land sales and an annual tax levied by each town and city. Today, Wisconsin has 422 school districts and a much more complex funding system.
Public school funding accounts for one third of the general revenue in our state budget and receives the most money of any state program. The education funding formula has over two dozen categorical aids (special education aid, sparsity aid, per pupil aid, pupil transportation aid, etc.), which determine the funding given for various school programs and education purposes.
As the demographics and population trends in our state have changed, our education funding formula has remained the same. Sixty-one percent of all public school districts in Wisconsin are experiencing declining enrollment. Some districts also have high property values, particularly in rural lake districts, which means that they receive little to no aid from the state. We need to review how tax dollars are being distributed among the schools in our state.
We want to ensure every child has the opportunity to receive an excellent education. Rep. Joel Kitchens (R- Sturgeon Bay) and Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) chair the Commission consisting of a bipartisan group of legislators and education stakeholders. The Commission will be holding public hearings throughout Wisconsin seeking input and will provide a report with recommendations to be considered for the 2019-2021 budget.