As state legislators move closer to passing a budget that will partially restore funding to public schools, we think it’s helpful to return to SOS Wauwatosa’s “three asks”. These are the things we advocate for. We have done our best to summarize our understanding of where things currently stand in the Wisconsin Legislature, as of today’s date, in relation to our three asks:
- SOS ASK #1: Increase the state imposed revenue cap so districts can make decisions locally about how much money they want to spend per student and the types of programs they want to offer in their district.
- LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: The Assembly has introduced language to partially address this issue, by raising the low revenue limit ceiling that impact some Wisconsin districts. We support this measure and know that it has the potential to help many districts throughout the state. In the future, we hope that more will be done.
- SOS ASK #2: Increase state aid and stop efforts at the state level to place more of the costs for funding public schools onto local property taxpayers.
- LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Although we have consistently asked for an increase of at least $300 per pupil, per year, the current proposal of $200 in the first year, and an additional $204 in the second year, is a step in the right direction. If this level of funding is approved, we will continue to advocate for increases in the future to make up for the large cuts that took place over the past six years.
- RELATED LEGISLATION: In the face of the severe budget cuts at the state level, hundreds of school districts across Wisconsin have gone to referendum over the past few years, and a record number of those districts have approved such referendum. Unfortunately, the Legislature is considering several pieces of legislation (Assembly Bills 268, 269 & 282 and Senate Bills 191 & 195) that would limit the ability of local school districts to go to referendum to raise the funds they need for new facilities and to cover operating expenses. These are direct attacks on local control. SOS Wauwatosa registered its opposition to all five of these bills on Thursday, June 15, during the Assembly and Senate Committee hearings. They are likely to come up for a vote the week of June 19, 2017.
- SOS ASK #3: Pause the statewide voucher school expansion until these schools are held to the same accountability measures as our public schools so that taxpayers can be assured of their performance.
- LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: We have not heard any news that the voucher school expansion plan will be changed. For the statewide program (Wisconsin Parental Choice Program), the current plan includes increasing the number of students in any given district that can claim a voucher by 1% every year, with a family income eligibility limit of 185% of poverty.
- LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Changes in accountability measures for voucher schools are being considered this budget season in Assembly Bill 383 (adding universal background checks for school staff and several fiscal accountability measures). Nevertheless, voucher schools will continue to have fewer accountability measures than public schools; this is an area where there will still be work to do.
We encourage SOS Wauwatosa supporters and public school advocates statewide to call or email your legislators and urge them to:
- Support an increase of $300, or at least $200, in per pupil aid for each of the next 2 years
- Support lifting the low revenue cap ceiling, for the benefit of other school districts.
- Reject limiting the ability of local school districts to go to referendum
- Support increasing the accountability measures for private voucher schools, but pause their expansion until equal accountability is attained.
Visit the SOS Wauwatosa website to learn more. Thank you for your continuing support!