There is detail in the 2013-15 WI state budget proposal that will impact public education.
Consider the following:
The $129 million in general school aid in the 2013-15 budget proposal doesn't boost overall school funding. Walker’s plan freezes revenue limits on schools, meaning the new money would go toward property tax relief and not toward the cost of educating children. Walker acknowledged that the $129 million increase in state aid for school districts is “essentially property tax relief”.
- Revenue limits are frozen, meaning the state is allowing public school districts no increase in per pupil spending.The SASD preliminary budget for the 2013-2014 school year shows the revenue freeze results in a $5.5 million deficit for next year. This is structural deficit for the SASD that will continue into the future, with rough estimates up to a nearly $15 million deficit in three years. There are tough decisions ahead with no easy solutions to come up with the cuts necessary to balance the SASD budget.
- Defunding of public education. In the 2011-13 budget, lawmakers cut the revenue cap by an average of $550 per student and cut more than $800 million in state school aid. On the heels of these enormous cuts, public schools are proposed to get a freeze in funding for the next two years.
While freezing funding for public school districts, the voucher program is proposed to expand to nine school districts, including SASD, allowing students to attend religious and other private schools at taxpayer expense.
- According to multiple studies of the District of Columbia, Milwaukee and Cleveland private school voucher programs, students offered vouchers do not perform better in reading and math than students in public schools (see report under Related Links)
- There is little public accountability for voucher schools, and the accountability measures proposed will take years to implement.
- Students already enrolled in private schools and their siblings are given preference to receive vouchers, so the parents of students already enrolled will receive funding from the state for their private school tuition.
- The eligibility limit to receive a voucher is 300% of the poverty level, which is about $77,000 for a married couple with two children.
- Private school voucher expansion means property taxes will rise. Given that currently attending private school students have preference, if 30% (nearly 400) of those students receive vouchers, district taxpayers would pay an additional $1,075,300 in property taxes. If there were 530 voucher students, district taxpayers would pay an additional $1,433,733 in property taxes. As the number of private school voucher students increase, so will the additional property taxes for SASD taxpayers. View Sheboygan Area School District's analysis.
The new State Report Card should not be used as a basis for expanding the voucher program or distributing funding.
- The first School Report Cards were distributed less than one year ago, with the intent of providing a snapshot of school performance. Rep. Steve Kastell was part of the team that developed the report cards and has said the purpose of the report card was not to determine high stakes funding for schools.
updated: March 29, 2013