New School Funding Plan Has Promise
Senator Schultz joined Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers in Sauk Prairie to announce new school funding plan. Dale said he looks forward to working with the Superintendent on a bill that can gain approval by the legislature.
School Finance Reform Overview
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Our combination of excellent educators, involved parents and caring communities, all working together, make our schools great at readying students for successful futures. But our state funding system isn’t helping as local schools are forced to make cuts and turn to property taxpayers with contentious referendums. Our school funding system was founded on these three principles:
In recent years, both two-thirds funding and the district cost controls were eliminated, breaking our funding system and our promise to local schools. To fix our school funding system, I think we should:
Achieving a new Wisconsin's school funding formula is a top priority for me in the new legislative session starting in January. Recently, I joined State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers in Sauk Prairie as he shared details of his plan to overhaul school funding. Evers and I agree that a new formula should:
The current school funding system has schools and property taxpayers at odds. As state K-12 education aid has dwindled, many schools have needed referendums to meet operating expenses. I support an underlying principle of the Evers proposal - hold the line on property taxes.
The state’s current funding formula weights property values above all else in assessing a district's ability to support its school. The Evers plan instead incorporates a "poverty factor" to direct more aid to districts with lower family incomes. I think Evers’ poverty factor more fairly directs state funding to the districts where it is most needed.
A school's enrollment is a main factor in determining how much state aid it receives. Small rural schools are hardest hit by enrollment declines. The Evers’ plan better insulates a school from a sudden drop in state aid when enrollment declines from one year to the next. This enables a school district to prepare for the future and adjust to meet student needs instead of having to react to a funding crisis.
Evers is right to propose we eliminate the school levy credit. The School Levy Tax Credit (SLTC) is a “shared revenue” program, distributed to municipalities based on their share of statewide school levies. But schools never actually see the money. Instead, as its name suggests, the funding reduces all property tax bills. We should eliminate the SLTC and instead plug more dollars into a state aid formula that is fairer to poor districts, not property-wealthy school districts. The change is revenue neutral for taxpayers and ensures aid goes where it is most needed.
We are fortunate to have excellent educators, involved parents and caring communities, all working together, making for great schools that prepare our children for successful futures. Now we need a school funding system that complements their efforts. Please share your thoughts on the plan by completing the form below. Your ideas can help as we seek to end the cycle of damaging cuts, contentious referendums and higher property taxes.
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