Nearly half of Wisconsin public schools will receive less state aid

lost moneyNearly half of Wisconsin public schools will receive less general school aid this year, while unaccountable private voucher schools have seen a dramatic increase in government subsidies.

“The vast majority of Wisconsin students attend neighborhood public schools, but it’s clear they are not a priority for the current governor,” said WEAC President Betsy Kippers, a Racine teacher.

Governor Walker has made the largest cuts to public education in the U.S., and at the same time has funneled taxpayer dollars to privately run charters and the unaccountable school voucher program.

“Today’s news is a wake-up call for parents and everyone who values their community schools to get involved in electing a governor who puts students first,” said Kippers. “Mary Burke opposes expansion of the statewide voucher school program that Governor Walker created. Governor Walker supports expanding the voucher system, which is estimated to cost taxpayers more than $1 billion. That price will be at the expense of public school students in the form of fewer programs and teachers.”

“The fact is, public school students outperform voucher students,” Kippers said. “The fact is, voucher schools don’t serve all children the way public schools do. And, the fact is, Wisconsin has sunk $139 million already into schools booted from voucher program. Enough already.”

The Department of Public Instruction released the certified state aid amount for the coming school year Wednesday, and it shows that about half of school districts will see slight increases while about half will see less state aid. On paper, general state aid for school districts this year increased 2.1 percent. However, the actual amount of aid that the state’s 424 public school districts will receive is substantially less because general state aid for public schools is reduced to pay for private voucher schools in Milwaukee and independent charter schools supported by state tax dollars. Specifically, Milwaukee Public Schools will have its aid reduced by $61.1 million to fund the Milwaukee voucher program. Nearly all districts share an aid reduction of $68.6 million for the 22 independent charter schools in Milwaukee and one independent charter school in Racine.

“It’s time to stop state budgets that fail children, public schools and Wisconsin,” said Kippers. “Just yesterday, rural school superintendents called on state leaders to stop funding two school systems because our small school districts are on the verge of collapse. Today, we find that instead of solutions, those rural schools will be even more strapped to meet student needs.”

“It’s time for Wisconsin to say no to budgets that place unaccountable private schools at a higher priority than neighborhood public schools,” Kippers said. “Our children are depending on us.”

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