Education Committee Democrats Decry Bill Penalizing Rural Schools
(MADISON) – Senate Education Committee members Patty Schachtner (D-Somerset) and Janet Bewley (D-Delta) today criticized a proposal that would exempt one school district from strict revenue limits at the expense of three rural districts that would still have to abide by limits.
The Senators cited information from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau showing that three rural districts in Northwestern Wisconsin- Cameron, Maple, and Osceola- would continue to be penalized by punitive limitations that Senate Bill 437 proposes to relieve for only one district.
Senator Bewley said, “This bill would only exempt the Freedom School District and deny the responsible, low–spending districts in our part of the state the opportunity to employ the same resources for their students that other districts across the state enjoy.”
Governor Tony Evers enacted with our new budget the opportunity for school districts to obtain revenue of $9,700 and eventually up to $10,000 per student in their district. Unfortunately, the budget as amended by the Joint Finance Committee restored an onerous limit that excludes districts from that needed financial relief for three years if they had been forced to go to property taxpayers for general operating expenses and held a referendum vote that failed.
“The students, educators, and families in Freedom certainly deserves this relief- just as schools in Cameron, Osceola, Maple, and those across rural Wisconsin do. Unfortunately between this restriction on local control and cuts to sparsity aid and special education funding, our rural schools are being left behind,” continued Senator Schachtner.
The Senators noted that they voted to lift the restriction statewide in an amendment to the budget, which had been part of Governor Evers’ original proposal, and have offered a similar amendment to Senate Bill 437 to benefit rural schools across the state. They stated they would continue to fight to ensure their school districts in Northwestern Wisconsin are not denied the same rights and relief as any others.