Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools School-funding update

The Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES) is a statewide network of educators, school board members, parents, community leaders, and researchers. Its Wisconsin Adequacy Plan — a proposal for school-finance reform — is the result of research into the cost of educating children to meet state proficiency standards.
Quality Counts grades are mixed for Wisconsin
Waukesha looks at cutting $3 million, 32 positions … and more
Racine looking at yet another referendum
School districts prepare for budget cuts
School-funding reform calendar

Quality Counts grades are mixed for Wisconsin
Although Wisconsin scores at or above the national average on all four Quality Counts indicators, the state received only an overall grade of B- (C+ in efforts to improve teacher quality; B- in standards and accountability and resource equity, and a B in school climate).
The study is produced annually by Education Week with support from the Pew Center on the States.
Part of the problem with the C+ in efforts to improve teacher quality can be attributed to inadequate funding. The report notes that “Wisconsin lags behind in providing professional support and training for teachers” and “does not require and finance mentoring for new teachers.”
Waukesha looks at cutting $3 million, 32 positions … and more
According to a Jan. 16 story in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (http://www.jsonline.com/news/wauk/jan06/385433.asp), “elementary band and orchestra could face the music this year, along with environmental education and classroom teachers at all grades.”
That was the word out of the Waukesha School District last week as school board members considered administrative recommendations to cover the districts projected $3 million shortfall in 2006-07.
Under the proposal, which was developed after discussions with about 50 administrators as well as teacher leaders, about half of the potential shortfall would be covered by eliminating 32 full-time classroom teaching positions. That move would increase the average class ratio by one student in first- through sixth-grade classrooms (to 25-1) and by two students in the middle and high schools (to 27-1).
Racine looking at yet another referendum
The reality of another budget shortfall is setting in for residents of the Racine Unified School District and has school board members looking toward yet another referendum in the near future (http://www.journaltimes.com/articles/2006/01/12/local/iq_3851586.txt).
After hearing about a projected $10.5 million shortfall for 2006-07, the board formed a referendum committee. School board member Russ Carlsen, who will co-chair the committee, said that in the absence of referendum money, the district would have to make cuts to personnel, since employee costs comprise 85 percent of the district’s budget.
Carlsen said the state’s school-funding system, which doesn’t allow revenues to grow at near the pace of expenses, has driven the district’s budget shortfalls. “Regardless of how many efficiencies we develop, we’re always going to be short.”
Last June, voters approved a one-year, $6.45 million referendum, a vote that followed a failed two-year referendum for nearly $18 million in April of 2005.
School districts prepare for budget cuts
School districts throughout central Wisconsin are beginning to look at their budgets for the 2006-07 school year, and most are gearing up for yet another round of budget cuts (http://www.marshfieldnewsherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060108/CWS0101/601080451/1732).
While decisions are still being made — program reductions, loss of extracurriculars, elimination of staff, and increased fees — several districts are turning to closing schools. Wisconsin Rapids already voted to close a school, and Stevens Point board members will meet next week to discuss the possibility. In Marshfield, board members are trying to cover their shortfall of $500,000 to $1 million through staff attrition, while Tomorrow River officials have scheduled a $350,000 referendum in February.
Bette Lang, Point superintendent, told her board that “all school districts are struggling.” She said that her district was lucky, having passed a referendum two years ago, “but because of additional expenditures we will still have a deficit.”
School-funding reform calendar
Jan. 23, 2006 — School-funding reform presentation, 6:30 p.m., in the St. Francis School District (http://www.stfrancissd.org/)
Jan. 25, 2006 — School-funding reform presentation, 7 p.m., at the Markesan Middle School (http://www.markesan.k12.wi.us/default.htm), 100 East Vista Boulevard
Feb. 22, 2006 — School-funding reform presentation at Marinette School District High School (http://www.marinette.k12.wi.us/)
March 10, 2006 — School-funding reform presentation, 3:30 p.m., School Finance Class (Ed 810) in the Edgewood College Doctoral Program
March 13, 2006 — School-funding reform presentation, noon, for the Fond du Lac Retired Educators Association., Knights of Columbus building, 795 Fond du Lac Avenue
June 6, 2006 — School-funding reform presentation, 1 p.m., for the Dodge County Retired Educators Association, Marsh Haven
Please feel free to share your copy of the WAES school-funding update with anyone interested in school-finance reform. Contact Tom Beebe (tbeebe@wisconsinsfuture.org) at 414-384-9094 for details.

Thomas S. Beebe, Outreach Specialist
Institute for Wisconsin’s Future
1717 South 12th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204
Voice: 414-384-9094
Fax: 414-384-9098
Cell: 920-650-0525
E-mal: tbeebe@wisconsinsfuture.org