Wisconsin Schools Slip Toward Average in Spending and Staffing

August 31, 2010

A new analysis by the Wisconsin Budget Project finds that Wisconsin is no longer much ahead
of the curve on school spending and staffing. Once a national leader in educational innovation
and performance, Wisconsin’s investment in K-12 education has slipped significantly relative to
other states over the past decade, and it now ranks near the national average on many measures
of support for public education.

According to the Budget Project analysis, per-pupil instructional spending in public and
secondary schools grew by 7.6% (adjusted for inflation) in Wisconsin between 2000 and 2008
(the most recent year for which data is available), a rate less than half the national average of
17.9%. Wisconsin’s rank in instructional spending per pupil dropped from 11th to 18th during that
span. While Wisconsin continues to spend more per pupil than the national average, per-pupil
spending here has been completely flat since 2003, while the national average has increased by

“The combination of revenue caps and the gradual erosion of support from state sources has put
the squeeze on school districts, resulting in significant cuts at the local level,” said research
analyst Tamarine Cornelius, author of the report. Read the full press release.