State Superintendent Proposes Reforms in School Financing
State School Superintendent Tony Evers unveiled a budget proposal today called “Fair Funding for our Future,” which would fix a number of shortcomings of the current school finance system. The plan, which was unveiled at a press event at Irving Middle School in West Allis, would significantly improve the distribution of school aids by making two fundamental changes:
- It incorporates a poverty weighing factor of 30% into the formula to account for family income, instead of just basing equalization aid on a district’s property values.
- It would allocate all state property tax relief for education, including school levy and first dollar credits, directly to schools, which is a much more progressive allocation system.
According to Superintendent Evers, “Fair Funding for Our Future makes Wisconsin’s school funding formula more fair, sustainable, and transparent. It maximizes existing resources and sets the stage for greater state support for education in future years.”
The DPI press release says the plan would hold the line on net property taxes and would increase state aid for 402 school districts, while holding it level for the other 22. Some of the other aspects of the proposal include the following:
- Increase general and categorical school aids by 2.4% in 2013-14 and by 5.5% in 2014-15.
- Provide a guaranteed amount of funding ($3000) to school districts for each student.
- Increase per pupil revenue limit to $225 per student in 2013-14, $230 per student in 2014-15.
- Provide full funding for the sparsity categorical aid program to assist about 130 rural districts.
- Increase total categorical aid by $47.5 million over two years, and create seven new categories of such aid: a Graduation Grant Program; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Grants; Career and Technical Education (CTE) Incentive Grants; High-cost Transportation Aid; New supplemental Bilingual-Bicultural Aid; Educator Effectiveness Grants; and Accountability Grants.