With Wisconsin’s QEO Gone, schools bargain harder on teachers’ contracts

Amy Hetzner:

So far this school year, the approximately 100 school districts that have reached agreements with their teachers have average settlements that increase salaries and benefits by 3.75%, according to Bob Butler, staff counsel for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards. That compares with an average total compensation increase of 4.11% for teachers in the 2008-’09 school year.
Given that settlements tend to go down the longer negotiations take, Butler said the average increases for 2009-’10 and 2010-’11 are likely to be below what they have been in the past and what was considered a minimum settlement under the QEO law.
The recession, even in growing and financially stable districts, is the main reason behind the settlement drops, Butler said. Even though the Legislature removed the QEO salary restrictions, it left revenue limits in place so that any increase in teacher compensation almost certainly means staff cuts, he said.
In addition, facing pressure from taxpayers, some school districts, such as Whitnall, refused to enact a tax levy up to their state-imposed revenue limits this year.
“We have seen such a drastic reduction in the amount of money we have coming in from the state, it would have been hard to settle at 3.8% even if the QEO still stood there,” Whitnall School Board President Bill Osterndorf said.

Related, 9/25/2009: Madison School District & Madison Teachers Union Reach Tentative Agreement: 3.93% Increase Year 1, 3.99% Year 2; Base Rate $33,242 Year 1, $33,575 Year 2: Requires 50% MTI 4K Members and will “Review the content and frequency of report cards”.

A Message from Wisconsin State Senate President Fred Risser on the K-12 Budget, the QEO and Tax Redistributions

Fred Risser, via a kind reader’s email:

July 30, 2009
Dear ________
Due to your interest in the public education, I am writing to update you on the outcome of the 2009 State Budget and how it will impact K-12 Education in Wisconsin.
Despite the financial difficulties that the state finds itself in, a number of programs in this budget will have a positive and lasting effect on public education. The high point of the budget this year is the repeal of the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO). Since the QEO was passed, teacher pay has lost more than 7% to inflation and fallen even further behind in per capita income. Wisconsin has long prided itself in having a top-notch public education system, yet we have lost countless qualified educators over this law. The elimination of the QEO removes one obstacle toward ensuring that our children have access to the best educators possible.
Other items of note in this budget include additional funding for the expansion of Four-Year-Old Kindergarten programs; increases in aid for high-poverty districts; and additional grant funding to improve school safety efforts.
Unfortunately, the reduction in available state funding resulted in some cuts in school aids. However, I was pleased that overall funding for public education was maintained at a reasonable level under current circumstances, ensuring that we are able to give Wisconsin students the best resources possible. Funding education is an investment in the future of Wisconsin.
Thank you for your continued support of public education in Wisconsin. If I can ever be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Most sincerely,
Wisconsin State Senate

WEAC on the QEO

Christian Schneider:

For a decade and a half, the state’s teachers union has been hammering away at Republican state lawmakers for failing to repeal the Qualified Economic Offer law (QEO), which essentially allowed school districts to grant a 3.8% increase in salary and benefits to teachers without going to arbitration.
In the state budget he submitted in February, Governor Jim Doyle proposed repealing the QEO. Since Democrats hold both houses of the Legislature, it seemed to be a sure thing that they would go along with Doyle’s suggestion.
But then yesterday, a funny thing happened. WEAC, the state’s largest teachers’ union, offered up a “compromise” plan to the Legislature instead of simply doing away with the QEO.
Your first question is probably obvious: “Exactly with whom are they compromising?” They own the Wisconsin Legislature. They can get whatever they want – why would they feel the need to “compromise” with anyone, seeing as the thing they have hated most for 15 years is a couple of votes from being history? And who exactly represents the taxpayers in this “compromise?”
The “compromise” they offered essentially delays repeal of the QEO for one year. So they’ve been ripping on Republicans for years for not eliminating the QEO, but then when it comes time to actually do it, they want to push it off for a year – when they have the votes to eliminate it immediately.
What they’ve done is put into writing what most others have realized over the years – the QEO is actually a pretty good deal, especially in a bad economy. They have recognized that if you pull away the QEO now, they could end up with a lot less than a 3.8% pay and benefits increase. In tough economic times, it’s a floor rather than a ceiling – ask any of the 128,000 private sector workers who have lost their jobs in Wisconsin in the past year if they’d settle for a guaranteed 3.8% increase.

WEAC’s QEO Proposal & Wisconsin K-12 School Spending


he WEAC memo urges JFC members to support the governor’s original recommendation to repeal the QEO. But in lieu of that, the memo offers the alternative of keeping the QEO in place until July 1, 2010, and provide a one-year “hiatus” on interest arbitration proceedings for resolving contract issues.
Administrators still have concerns that changes to arbitration proposed by the governor will lead to unmanageable compensation increases. Doyle’s proposals would de-emphasize school district revenues in arbitration with employees.
The WEAC memo urges the committee members to keep these modifications intact.
WEAC lobbyist Dan Burkhalter said the alternative was offered as districts deal with a tough economic climate.
It would keep management from being able to impose arbitration in the first year without a union’s consent, Burkhalter said.. If a contract would go to arbitration in the first year, the contract would be settled under the new arbitration rules under the compromise offered by WEAC.
Burkhalter said the reaction of lawmakers was positive to the compromise, but he didn’t know what the committee would ultimately put forward.
See the memo here.

Keep the Wisconsin QEO

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Wisconsin’s three-legged stool of school finance is wobbling and about to fall over.
The Legislature needs to prevent a terrible crash by rejecting the governor’s attempt to kick out the sturdiest leg of the system — the QEO, or “qualified economic offer,” which limits increases in teacher compensation.
Wisconsin’s system of paying for public schools has long been described as a three-legged stool. It’s designed to protect property taxpayers and the quality of K-12 education.
The three legs are:

Much more on the QEO and Wisconsin school revenue limits here.

On Eliminating Wisconsin Teacher Salary Growth Caps (QEO)

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Spend more with less money.
That’s the impossible demand Democrats who run the state Capitol seem anxious to make on local school boards across Wisconsin.
Democrats who control the governor’s office and the Legislature suggest they’re going to repeal a long-standing law that effectively caps annual pay raises for public school teachers. Democrats have been promising to remove the cap for more than a decade and now have the political power to do so.
But allowing higher annual raises for teachers will require more money from somewhere. And state leaders don’t have any dollars to spare. They’re staring at a record state budget shortfall.
So where will the money come from?
Not from property taxes. Gov. Jim Doyle and other Democrats suggest they’ll keep in place a state cap on local school district revenue. Revenue caps limit how much local property tax levies can increase.
That will leave school boards with higher salary expenses but no easy way to pay for them.

Dave Blaska noted that WEAC spent $2,100,000 on five Wisconsin Assembly races in 2008.

Wisconsin School Finance: QEO, Revenue Caps and Sage

Andy Hall: The revenue caps and QEO are transforming the operations of public schools, pushing school officials and the public into a never-ending cycle of cuts, compromises and referendums. Most districts reduced the number of academic courses, laid off school support staff and reduced programs for students at the highest risk of failure, according to … Continue reading Wisconsin School Finance: QEO, Revenue Caps and Sage

QEO Politics: Politicians Discuss Wisconsin’s Qualified Economic Offer

Jason Stein: To avoid arbitration, the QEO mandates that districts maintain the same increasingly costly benefits for teachers, Leistikow said. “Districts are put in a terrible box,” Leistikow said. “Repealing the QEO will give school districts more flexibility in managing their benefits cost.” The WEAC union, a staunch and powerful Doyle supporter, would like to … Continue reading QEO Politics: Politicians Discuss Wisconsin’s Qualified Economic Offer

QEO: Good or Bad?

Ken Cole: The perennial argument that the QEO has somehow �capped� teacher salaries just doesn�t square with the numbers because most districts voluntarily settle above the 3.8 percent total package, which includes both salary and benefits. The Wisconsin Association of School Boards database shows that total-package increases averaged about 4.5 percent in 2003-04 and 4.3 … Continue reading QEO: Good or Bad?

Will Wisconsin return to its ‘three-legged stool’ to pay for schools? Here are reasons to doubt it

Alan Borsuk: Let’s focus particularly on Evers’ call for using some of the money to return state support of general operating costs of public schools to two-thirds of the total bill (with the other third coming generally from property taxes).   A bit of history: In the early 1990s, there was strong opinion, particularly for then-Gov. Tommy Thompson … Continue reading Will Wisconsin return to its ‘three-legged stool’ to pay for schools? Here are reasons to doubt it

Conversations on the Rifle Range, I: Not Your Mother’s Algebra 1 and the Guy Who Really Knows

Out in Left Field, via a kind Barry Garelick email: Barry Garelick, who wrote various letters under the name Huck Finn and which were published here is at work writing what will become “Conversations on the Rifle Range”. This will be a documentation of his experiences teaching math as a long-term substitute. OILF proudly presents … Continue reading Conversations on the Rifle Range, I: Not Your Mother’s Algebra 1 and the Guy Who Really Knows

Recall Day Rhetoric

A few links related to Wisconsin’s recall election:
#wirecall on Twitter
Madison Teachers, Inc Twitter Feed; Pro-Recall
Madison’s Isthmus
True School Activists Vote for Walker by “Penelope Trunk”, via a kind reader’s email.
TJ Mertz: Why Scott Walker doesn’t recall the QEO and how to help recall him
WisPolitics Elections Blog (WisPolitics is now owned by the Capital Times Company)
MacIver Institute
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel All Politics Blog.
Daily Kos
Talking Points Memo
Five Thirty Eight Blog..
National Review
WEAC Twitter Feed
AFSCME Twitter Feed

Union Upset by Comments From Emanuel on Schools

Hunter Clauss:

As the Chicago Public Schools begin what are certain to be contentious contract talks with the Chicago Teachers Union, Mayor Rahm Emanuel emerged as the star of a new online video criticizing the union and promoting charter schools, whose teachers mostly are not unionized.
An interview with Mr. Emanuel is a highlight of the 35-minute video, produced by the Michigan-based Education Action Group Foundation and the Fox News political analyst Juan Williams. Mr. Williams narrates the video, saying the union is “radically politicized” and is “repeatedly providing terrible examples for Chicago’s schoolchildren.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. Emanuel said last week that the mayor did not share those views of the union, and his comments in the video were more measured, but union officials were still upset. The mayor discussed how he faced union opposition to some of his education proposals, such as extending the length of the school day this year.

Clips from Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s News Conference on Closed Schools & Teacher Job Action

Matthew DeFour: (watch the 15 minute conference here)

Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad discusses on Wednesday Gov. Scott Walker’s bill, teacher absences, and Madison Teachers Inc.


Dave Baskerville is right on the money: Wisconsin needs two big goals:

For Wisconsin, we only need two:
Raise our state’s per capita income to 10 percent above Minnesota’s by 2030.
In job and business creation over the next decade, Wisconsin is often predicted to be among the lowest 10 states. When I was a kid growing up in Madison, income in Wisconsin was some 10 percent higher than in Minnesota. Minnesota caught up to us in 1967, and now the average Minnesotan makes $4,500 more than the average Wisconsinite.
Lift the math, science and reading scores of all K-12, non-special education students in Wisconsin above world-class standards by 2030. (emphasis added)
Wisconsinites often believe we lose jobs because of lower wages elsewhere. In fact, it is often the abundance of skills (and subsidies and effort) that bring huge Intel research and development labs to Bangalore, Microsoft research centers to Beijing, and Advanced Micro Devices chip factories to Dresden.

Grow the economy (tax base) and significantly improve our schools….

WEAC leaders hoping to forge relationships with GOP leaders at Capitol


Like other union leaders, WEAC President Mary Bell can see some “labor unrest” among her members if they’re targeted by the incoming Walker administration.
But she can’t see them taking an extreme step like going on strike, something they’re prevented from doing under Wisconsin law.
“My members care so desperately about the work they do that it would be extremely difficult to envision them leaving their classrooms, leaving their kids,” Bell said in a new WisPolitics interview. “We have that history in Wisconsin, but it’s been 30 years since those things took place.”
With Scott Walker set to occupy the governor’s office next week and Republicans poised to take over both houses of the Legislature, Bell and WEAC executive director Dan Burkhalter said their members are feeling apprehensive and somewhat targeted. Still, Bell pointed out they’ve felt targeted since the early 1990s, when the state imposed the qualified economic offer.
In the last budget, Dems and Gov. Jim Doyle lifted the QEO, which allowed districts to avoid arbitration so long as they offered teachers a bump in pay and benefits of at least 3.8 percent.

A Look at Wisconsin Teacher Compensation Increases

Matthew DeFour:

Statewide increases in teacher compensation contracts are on track to be the lowest in more than a decade following last year’s changes in state school district financing.
Based on 160 settled contracts out of 425 school districts, the average increase in compensation packages — including salary and benefits — is 3.75 percent, according to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.
Annual increases last dipped below 4 percent in 1999 and have averaged 4.13 percent since 1993, when the state first imposed revenue limits and introduced the so-called qualified economic offer (QEO) provision, which allowed districts to offer a 3.8 percent package increase instead of going to arbitration. The QEO was repealed in the state biennial budget approved last year, though revenue limits remain in place to keep property tax increases in check.
By another measure, the Wisconsin Educators Association Council, the state’s largest teachers union, reported teacher salaries are on pace to increase about 2 percent. That doesn’t include benefits and certain assumptions about longevity raises. The increase is slightly less than the 2.3 percent annual average since 1993 and would be the lowest since 2003.

Related: Madison School District & Madison Teachers Union Reach Tentative Agreement: 3.93% Increase Year 1, 3.99% Year 2; Base Rate $33,242 Year 1, $33,575 Year 2: Requires 50% MTI 4K Members and will “Review the content and frequency of report cards”. A searchable database of Wisconsin Teacher Salaries is available here.

Waukesha Offers Teachers 0.8% and 1.51% Increases over the Next Two Years, Union Counters with 3.52 and 4.66%

Chris Lufter:

In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would say that it is time for this community to support the Waukesha School Board. Currently, the Waukesha School Board and the Education Association of Waukesha are seeking arbitration over the latest contract negotiations due to a $5.7 million dollar discrepancy in salary and benefits between the two sides.
A little history is in order here. The qualified economic offer and revenue caps passed the state Legislature back in the early ’90s due to the ever increasing burden of salaries and Cadillac benefits placed on school district budgets and taxpayers. The QEO was designed to limit salary and benefit increases to 3.8 percent to avoid arbitration. Acknowledging that the QEO and revenue caps (the control on school spending) were out of line, the state Legislature eliminated the QEO. This was to help school boards limit or eliminate budget reductions seen every year.
There are several items in dispute between the EAW and the Waukesha School Board: restoring the insurance back to the WEA Trust (the state teachers-owned health insurance), reinstating and making permanent early retirement language and total compensation calculations.
First, the insurance. Traditionally the district has had to use WEA Trust for the teacher’s Cadillac insurance plan. There were minimal outof-pocket expenses to the employee, no contribution to the cost and a whopping $21,000-plus price tag (family plan). For the 2007-09 contract, the board successfully worked in a premium contribution of $20 for a single plan and $40 for a family plan per month from the employee. In addition, a $250/500 outof-pocket was added. The current school board proposal is looking to change this in the new contract to $500 single/$1000 family and a 10 percent premium contribution. These changes reflect what is really happening in the private sector today.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison Firefighter’s Union New 2 Year Contract

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz:

Yesterday a two year contract agreement with city firefighters was ratified by the union membership. It’s a good deal for both the union and the city and its taxpayers. The agreement, which still needs to be approved by the City Council, calls for what is essentially a two year pay freeze with a modest 3% increase at the end of the contract period in 2011.
Other levels of government are using furloughs (which are essentially pay cuts) and layoffs to cut their budgets, but I think the city should take a different approach. After all, the city provides many basic direct services that will have a very noticeable impact for our customers if they are cut back. We can’t shut down the fire department or the police department for one day a month. We can’t just not pick up the garbage for a week. It’s far better for our residents if we can manage our way through these tough budget years while keeping our city staff intact to the greatest extent that we can. But if we’re going to do that, then we’ll need cooperation from our unions on wage and benefit settlements.
That kind of cooperation is exactly what we got from Local 311. The firefighters gave us a responsible start to negotiations with the other dozen unions that represent city employees. I said from the start of this recession that we need to approach our challenges with the understanding that we’re all in this together. This settlement is a very strong indication that we’re moving in that direction.

The Madison School District (Board member Johnny Winston, Jr. is a firefighter) and Madison Teachers Union are still working on a new contract. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
There are at least two interesting challenges to an agreement this year:

  1. The elimination of “revenue limits and economic conditions” from collective bargaining arbitration by Wisconsin’s Democratically controlled Assembly and Senate along with Democratic Governer Jim Doyle:

    To make matters more dire, the long-term legislative proposal specifically exempts school district arbitrations from the requirement that arbitrators consider and give the greatest weight to
    revenue limits and local economic conditions. While arbitrators would continue to give these two factors paramount consideration when deciding cases for all other local governments, the importance of fiscal limits and local economic conditions would be specifically diminished for school district arbitration.

  2. The same elected officials eliminated the QEO, a 3.8% cap (in practice, a floor) on teacher salaries and wages in addition to “step” increases based on years of experience among other factors:

    As the dust settles around the new state budget, partisan disagreement continues over the boost that unions – particularly education unions – got by making it easier for them to sign up thousands of new members and by repealing the 3.8% annual limit on teachers’ pay raises.
    The provisions passed because Democrats, who got control of the Legislature for the first time in 14 years, partnered with Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle to advance changes the governor and unions had been pushing for years.
    Unions traditionally help elect Democratic politicians. The largest teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, spent about $2.1 million before last November’s elections, with much of that backing Democrats.
    Most of the labor-related provisions in the budget were added to provide people with “good, family-supporting jobs,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), co-chairman of the Legislature’s Finance Committee.
    “The idea that we’re shifting back to the worker, rather than just big business and management, that’s part of what Democrats are about,” Pocan said.
    It also helped that the two top Democratic legislators, Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan of Janesville and Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker of Weston, are veteran labor leaders.

WIBA’s Mitch Henck Discusses the Madison School District’s Budget with Don Severson

24MB mp3 audio file. Mitch and Don discuss the Madison School District’s $12M budget deficit, caused by a decline in redistributed tax dollars from the State of Wisconsin and generally flat enrollment. Topics include: Fund 80, health care costs, four year old kindergarten, staffing, property taxes (which may increase to make up for the reduced state tax dollar funding).
Madison School District Board President Arlene Silveira sent this message to local Alders Saturday:

Good afternoon,
Below is an update of the MMSD budget situation.
As you know, the biennial budget was signed into law at the end of June. The budget had numerous provisions that will effect the future of public education that include:

  • Repeal of the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO)
  • Decrease in funding for public education by the state of approximately $14720million
  • Decrease in the per pupil increase associated with revenue limits

The repeal of the QEO will potentially impact future settlements for salries and benefits. The decrease in funding for public education by the state creates the need for a tax increase conversation in order to sustain current programs. The decrease in the revenue limit formula will cause MMSD to face more reductions in programs and services for the next 2 years at a minimum.

  • Decrease in state aid: $9.2 million
  • Reduction in revenue: $2.8 million (decrease in the per pupil increase from $275 to $200/pupil)

Total decrease: projected to to be $12 million
Last May, the Madison Board of Education passed a preliminary 2009-10 budget that maintained programs and services with a modest property tax increase. The groundwork for our budget was laid last fall when the Board pledged our commitment to community partnership and the community responded by supporting a referendum that allowed us to exceed revenue caps to stabilize funding for our schools. Two months later, with programs and staff in place for next year, we find ourselves faced with State funding cuts far exceeding our worst fears.
We are in this position in part because Wisconsin’s school funding formulas are so complicated that the legislature and supporting agencies did not accurately predict the budget’s impact on school districts. State aid to Madison and many other districts was cut by 15%. In practical terms, coupled with additional State cuts of $2.8 million, MMSD is saddled with State budget reductions of $12 million this year.
This grim situation is a result of a poor economy, outdated information used by the legislature, and a Department of Public Instruction policy that penalizes the district for receiving one-time income (TIF closing in Madison). Federal stimulus funds will, at best, delay cuts for one year. We are left with a gaping budget deficit when many fiscal decisions for the upcoming school year cannot be reversed.
We are working on strategies and options and are looking carefully at the numbers to ensure our solutions do not create new problems. We will evaluate options for dealing with the budget in early August.
To repair our budget, we are working with legislators and the DPI to appeal decisions that have placed us in this position. We continue to look for changes in resource management to find additional cost reductions. We are seeking ways to offset the impact of school property tax increases if we need to increase our levy.
At the same time, we pledge that we will not pass the full cost of the cuts along as increased property taxes. We will not resort to massive layoffs of teachers and support staff, t he deadline having passed to legally reduce our staff under union contracts.
I will be back in touch after our August meeting when we have made decisions on our path forward.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Arlene Silveira
Madison Board of Education

Related: Sparks fly over Wisconsin Budget’s Labor Related Provisions.

Madison School District Budget Update: Wisconsin K-12 State Budget Changes

Superintendent Dan Nerad [184K PDF]:

Every two years the State of Wisconsin goes through a process to finalize a two year budget for all governmental programs. This biennial budget process is the source of the State’s commitment to public education here in Wisconsin, historically driven by legislative guidance to adhere to two-thirds funding.
The two-thirds funding has changed over recent years, but for the most part the State of Wisconsin was able to continue annual increases to public education in an attempt to keep up with rising costs within this sector.
The biennial budget was sigued into law near the end of June by Governor Jim Doyle after various proposals and with relatively few vetoes. This budget has numerous provisions that will effect the future of public education that include:

  • Repeal of the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO)
  • Decrease in funding for public education by the state of approximately $147 million
  • Decrease in the per pupil increase associated with revenue limits

Each of these provisions can and Will have a very unique impact on :MMSD over the years to come. The repeal of the QEO will potentially impact future settlements for salaries and benefits. The decrease in funding for public education by the state is projected to create the need for a tax increase conversation in order to sustain current programs. The decrease in the revenue limit formula will cause MMSD to face more reductions in programs and services fur the next two years at a minimum.
Many public and private organizations are dealing with this issue. It is perhaps a time to make lemonade out of lemons. In the MMSD’s case, getting out of the curriculum creation business (teaching & learning) and placing a renewed focus on hiring the most qualified teachers and letting them run.

What about a 2 Year Salary Freeze for K-12 Educators?

UW-system public educators not only have a 2 year freeze but a reduction of just over 3% via furloughs. WHY would K-12 public educators by exempt?! The QEO has been REPEALED effective IMMEDIATELY this month!
More: Freeze needs to include Janesville Education Association members:

FULL DISCLOSURE! Yes, I know some readers are going to be pointing the finger at me asserting: YOU hypocrite! YOU were a member of WEAC and JEA from 1971 through your retirement in June 2000. TRUE! I was a member of WEAC and JEA through the WI K-12 public education funding formula (QEO, State Revenue Cap, 2/3 aid) from its inception (1993-95 WI State Budget) through my retirement in June 2000. I served as the Co-chair of the Joint Legislative Committee representing the JEA from January 1998 through June 2000. I am very PROUD of the work which the Joint Legislative Committee did to study the issues of K-12 public education funding in WI and the recommendations which were issued in September 1998 with the goal of influencing the fall 1998 elections. The Joint Legislative Committee became a very effective advocate for effective reform of the K-12 public education funding formula in WI. The Committee was directly involved in the organization of the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools through co-chair, Virginia Wyss, President of the Janesville Board of Education. Virginia continues to be actively involved in the leadership of WAES. (WAES – URL: http://www.excellentschools.org)

Wisconsin School funding getting precarious Budget removes option for districts to cap increases for teachers’ salaries, benefits

Alan Borsuk & Amy Hetzner:

The three-legged stool is now down to one leg.
Will that leave either schools or taxpayers wobbly? Will the last leg fall, too?
In any case, Wisconsin’s old order for how to fund schools is coming to an end, and what comes next remains to be decided, perhaps two years from now when the next state budget is adopted. Pressure for an overhaul is growing, even as economic realities are providing strong pressure to hold down budgets.
When Gov. Jim Doyle signed the state budget for 2009-’11 on Monday, the leg of the stool known as the qualified economic offer fell away. The QEO meant school districts had the option of capping increases in teachers’ pay and benefits to 3.8% a year.
A second leg – the state’s commitment to fund two-thirds of general operations of public schools – has been weakening over the past six years. It looks as if it now will be the state’s commitment to fund something over 60% of school costs but not the full two-thirds.
That will leave only the third leg – revenue caps – in force. There will still be limits on how much school districts can collect in state aid and property taxes combined, a rule that will keep total spending growth restricted in general, but with widely varying impacts on property tax increases.
The three-legged stool was created in the mid-1990s, when Republican Tommy Thompson was governor. The goal was to put brakes on rapidly rising property taxes by increasing state aid, while holding down increases in overall spending through revenue caps and the threat of QEOs.

Wisconsin State K-12 Budget: “Robin Hood” for Madison Schools?

Steven Walters:

School-aid shift: Democrats added a shift in school-aid funding that would guarantee that no district loses more than 10% of state aid. The shift would give the Madison School District up to $1.8 million more, and take about that much from five Milwaukee-area suburban districts – Elmbrook, Oconomowoc, Mequon-Thiensville, Fox Point-Bayside and Nicolet.
QEO: The committee adopted a Senate-backed plan for an immediate repeal of the qualified economic offer system of limiting teachers’ pay raises. Doyle and the Assembly proposed a delay of the repeal until the 2010-’11 school year. Teachers have long complained that the QEO has unfairly kept salaries low; others say it keeps property taxes in check.

It will be interesting to see how the shift of money for Madison, at the expense of others plays out as state politics inevitably change…

A Primer on Wisconsin School Revenue Limits

The Wisconsin Taxpayer 3.4MB PDF:

Since 1994, Wisconsin school districts have operated under state-imposed revenue limits and the associated qualified economic offer (QEO) law.

  • Revenue limits have helped reduce school property tax increases to less than 5% per year from more than 9% annually prior to the caps.
  • The limits have had \aried impacts on school districts, with growing districts experiencing the largest revenue gains. Low-spending districts prior to the caps have seen the largest per student gains.
  • The QEO law has helped school districts keep compensation costs somewhat in line with revenue limits. However, since benefits are given more weight, teacher salary increases have slowed.

Since 1994. Wisconsin school districts have operated under slate-imposed revenue limits, which arc tied to inflation and enrollments. The associated qualified economic offer (QEO) law limits staff compensation increases to about 4% annually. With declining student counts, fluctuations in stale school aid. and various concerns over teacher pay. revenue limits and the QEO have attracted increasing debate.
The governor, in his proposed 2009-11 state budget, recommends eliminating the QEO. I le has also talked about providing ways for school districts to move away from revenue limits. This report does not address these specific proposals. Rather, it seeks to help inform discussions by examining the history of revenue limits and the QEO, legislative attempts to fix various issues, and the impacts of limits on schools, educators, and taxpayers.
School districts collect revenue from a variety of sources. The two largest sources are the property tax and state general (or equalization) aid, General aid is distributed based on district property wealth and spending. Combined, these two revenue sources account for about 75% of an average district’s funding. The remainder is a combination of student fees, federal aid. and state categorical aids. such as those for special education and transportation.
The revenue limit law was implemented in 1994 (1993-94 school year) and caps the amount districts can collect from property taxes and general aid combined. It does not restrict student fees, federal aid. or state categorical aid. A district’s revenue limit is determined by its prior-year cap, an inflation factor, and enrollments. There is an exception to the limit law for districts defined as “low-revenue.” Currently, districts with per student revenues less than S9.000 are allowed to increase their revenues to that level.
While Wisconsin’s revenue limit law began in 1994. its roots date back to several teacher strikes in the early 1970s, culminating with the 1974 Hortonville strike during which 86 teachers were fired. That strike gained national attention.

Related: K-12 tax & spending climate. A number of links on local school spending and tax increases before the implementation of State limits on annual expenditure growth. The Madison School District spent $180,400,000 during the 1992-1993 school year. In 2006, the District spent $331,000,000. The 2009/2010 preliminary Citizen’s Budget proposes spending $367,912,077 [Financial Summary 2.1MB pdf], slightly down from 2008/2009’s $368,012,286.

Doyle, Barrett warn Milwaukee Schools on tax increase

Alan Borsuk:

Gov. Jim Doyle and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett warned Friday that it “defies common sense” to consider a large increase in property taxes for Milwaukee Public Schools for next year and said they will hold MPS leaders accountable if there is such an increase.
They did not spell out exactly what they meant by accountable, but their sharp statement came as the two consider supporting major changes in the way MPS is run, including a possible mayoral takeover of the system. It also came shortly before they name a commission to oversee putting into action a consultant’s report that said MPS could save millions of dollars if it operated like a well-run business.
The governor and mayor were reacting to Thursday’s release of a proposed budget for MPS by Superintendent William Andrekopoulos. The proposal did not include a projection for property taxes for next year – that won’t come for months – but it did include a statement that it was likely there would be “a significant property tax increase.” Some MPS leaders have suggested it could be 10% or more.
The reaction also came the same day incoming state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers told the state Assembly’s Education Reform Committee that he intends to appoint a “federal funds trustee” to oversee how MPS spends tens of millions of dollars of federal economic stimulus money.
Doyle and Barrett jointly issued a brief statement about the MPS property tax picture:

Somewhat related: Joel McNally on the QEO.

Don Severson Talks with Vicki McKenna on the Madison Public Schools

25.3MB mp3 audio file. The discussion begins about four minutes into the audio clip. Topics include: spending, program/curriculum assessment, reading results, the District’s strategic planning process, the QEO and possible state budget changes that could raise local property taxes.

Wisconsin law restricting teacher raises (to at least 3.8%) likely to be repealed

Amy Hetzner:

A state law used to settle contracts and restrict teacher compensation in school districts from Wauwatosa to Cedarburg to New Berlin could be repealed this year, now that Democrats control both houses of the Legislature and the governor’s mansion.

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee took the most significant step toward eliminating the qualified economic offer (QEO) law since Gov. Jim Doyle took office simply by keeping the repeal proposal in the budget that it will begin considering Thursday. Prior attempts by Doyle to repeal the QEO as part of the biennial budget process were rejected by the committee when it was under bipartisan and Republican rule.

But now that the process is controlled by Democrats, who typically are more favorable to teacher- and labor-backed issues, state Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) called the chances the QEO will be eliminated this year “100%.” Passing the measure with the budget is viewed as easier than proposing it as an individual bill.

“The teachers union has wanted to get rid of this for a long time,” Olsen said. “They finally got the Democrats in power to do it. The Democrats plan to get rid of the QEO. The governor will get rid of the QEO.”

In place since 1993, the QEO was implemented as part of a three-pronged approach to change how public schools are funded in the state.

A Summary of the Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Event

Greg Bump:

WisPolitics: Evers, Fernandez question each other in We The People debate
By Greg Bump
Tony Evers questioned opponent Rose Fernandez’s qualifications for the state’s top education spot Friday night, while Fernandez countered by trying to portray him as a crony of Wisconsin’s largest teacher’s union.
The two, vying for the post of superintendent of Public Instruction, laid out competing visions in a We The People debate.
Evers, the deputy superintendent at DPI, touted his 34 years of experience in education while contrasting his resume with the credentials of Fernandez, who is a nurse by trade and has never worked in a public school.
Fernandez, a virtual school advocate, countered by continually trying to lay problems with the state’s educational system at the feet of Evers, who has held the No. 2 post at the agency for eight years.
Given the opportunity to question each other, Evers pointed out Fernandez represented virtual schools and has zero experience in the administration of public schools. He asked how parents with children in public schools can trust her to invest in their education rather than funneling money toward special interests.
“My own special interest is the boys and girls growing up in the state of Wisconsin,” Fernandez shot back.
Fernandez then stressed Evers’ endorsement by the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the “hundreds of thousands of dollars” the union has spent to support his campaign. She asked him to list three reforms he has supported that WEAC opposed.
Evers answered that the union was unhappy with a settlement DPI reached on allowing virtual schools — in which districts allow students to take courses on-line — to continue. He also said he has been a strong advocate of charter schools — which operate without some of the regulations of other public schools — something the union has opposed.
“I started charter schools. I know what charter schools are about,” Evers said. “I don’t need a lecture about charter schools.”
Evers also stressed his support from school boards, child advocates, parents and others.
“That’s why you have to have a broad coalition,” Evers said. “This isn’t about this overwhelming group of people driving policy at the state level. That just isn’t fact.”
Fernandez ripped DPI for not doing enough to help the struggling Milwaukee Public School system address issues like dropout rates and the achievement gap for minority students.
Evers countered that he has worked on the issue with educators in Milwaukee, but there are also socioeconomic factors that are hampering achievement.
“Laying this issue on my lap is irrational,” Evers said.
Fernandez also brought up a piece of Evers’ campaign lit that referred to voucher schools in Milwaukee as “a privatization scheme.”
“Some of the schools have been scheming, and those schools we have drummed out of the program,” Evers replied.
Evers warned that Fernandez would run DPI through the prism of the “special interest” of choice schools.
Both candidates agreed that a merit pay system for educators could have benefit, but they disagreed on the details. Fernandez indicated that she would base her merit pay system more on classroom outcomes, while Evers stressed that rewards for training were equally important.
They differed more prominently on the qualified economic offer, which Gov. Jim Doyle has proposed eliminating in his 2009-11 budget plan. Fernandez wants to retain it, saying that without the control on teacher compensation, property taxes could rise sharply.
“Children may become the enemy of the taxpayer,” she said.
Evers said he has bargained on both sides of the table, and he opposes the QEO because it hurts the state’s ability to stay competitive in teacher pay.
Evers embraced the coming federal stimulus cash, which will pump $800 million into state schools as “a historic event” that acknowledges “educators are the lever that can turn our economy around.” He said he would appoint a trustee to oversee the allocation of the funds in Milwaukee schools to ensure the money is getting to the classrooms.
In contrast, Fernandez said she looked upon the federal stimulus with caution in that it is one-time funding that won’t be there in the future
And while Evers touted the state’s ACT and SAT scores as being among the highest in the nation, Fernandez said those tests are only administered to college-bound students and aren’t indicative of the academic struggles in districts like Milwaukee.
We the People/Wisconsin is a multi-media that includes the Wisconsin State Journal, Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin Public Radio, WISC-TV, WisPolitics.com and Wood Communications Group.

Will school finances end in tragedy?

Maya Cole:

The headlines are dramatic: a state running billions in debt with declining revenue and a legislature waiting anxiously for federal money to show up.
“All the world’s a stage” — beyond a doubt. The feat is to decide whether this is a comedy or tragedy amid a dismal economy and different players.
Like stock characters, lobbyists continue to collect in the halls of government to sell their wares.
The predictable talk of paying for education plays to the citizenry. Don’t raise taxes and do more with less — it’s the same old dichotomy. Lately there’s new irony, as suggested by Gov. Jim Doyle, that school boards should go to the table with “more creative ways” to bargain and without the QEO (qualified economic offer).
We’ve been focusing in the wrong place, according to Doyle. All we need is a “creative teacher compensation package.” Problem solved. So school boards just need to get more creative and drop the discussion on school finance and educational excellence? Talk about a plot twist!
The cynical souls suggest that now is the time for caution and control, no time to attempt school finance reform, though the current formula was a short-term solution whence it began. They heed us to plod along with conventional plans and wait for — who and when? Next year? The year after?

A Fascinating Look at K-12 Tax & Spending Politics: WEAC and Wisconsin’s latest Budget

Christian Schneider:

The mood was sour at the WEAC offices in August of 2001. Republican Governor Scott McCallum had signed a budget that only increased school funding by $472 million over the biennium. These new funds, approved by McCallum while the Governor was wrestling with a budget deficit, represented increases of 3.1% and 4.2% in school aids over the 2001-03 biennium.
In a press release following the bill signing, the teachers’ union sneered at McCallum’s paltry effort, calling it a “status quo” budget. At no point in the release did they mention the half a billion in new funds they received – instead, they excoriated McCallum for vetoing a .78% increase in the property tax caps and for vetoing relaxation of the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO) law, which caps teacher salaries. They derided the Republican governor for not increasing aid enough for special education, saying the “lack” of special education funds meant “school districts will be forced to pit special education against other programs, resulting in decisions that hurt all students.” To the extent they mention the increased aids at all, they dismiss them as merely “part of a continuing effort” to hold down property taxes.
Nearly eight years later, Democratic Governor Jim Doyle stood at the podium in front of the Legislature, which was now controlled fully by members of his own party. Faced with a budget deficit of $5.9 billion (much of it his own doing) Doyle announced his intention to increase school aids by $426 million over the biennium. Even public school children in Wisconsin will recognize this as $46 million less than the increase authorized by McCallum in 2001.
Doyle’s budget also included a funding shell game that imperiled school aids in the future. Doyle cut over $500 million in general funds out of school aids and plugged in an equal amount in federal “stimulus” funds to cover the aids – federal funds which may very well not be available in the next budget. On top of that, he funds virtually the entire school aid increase with one-time federal money. When 2011 rolls around, school aids could be over $1 billion in the hole and fighting tooth and nail with other state programs for funding.
Undoubtedly, the small funding increase, coupled with the risky way funds are shifted around to patch up holes, would cause the thoughtful folks at WEAC to have some serious concerns regarding Doyle’s budget.
Surprise! The day after his budget address, WEAC wasted no time in praising the proposed Doyle school funding plan, gushing that it “stays true to Wisconsin’s priorities and values.”

Schneider correctly points out the risks of using stimulus/splurge funds to plug budget holes. Wisconsin K-12 spending has grown significantly over the years, while UW System state tax dollars have been flat.

With Democrats in charge, Wisconsin teacher pay cap could bite the dust

Jason Stein:

I don’t think it’s any secret that we think the QEO should be eliminated,” said Bell, whose union spent more than $2 million to help Democrats win control of the Assembly this fall. “It’s not productive for our school districts or my members.”
The union appears to have found a willing partner in the next Legislature. Already, state schools superintendent Libby Burmaster has included repealing the QEO in her budget request to Doyle. Carrie Lynch, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, said Decker supports a repeal, and Senate Democrats voted for it in the last budget. Assembly Speaker-elect Mike Sheridan, D-Janesville, said Democrats in his house would be “looking at it very closely.”
But Beloit homeowner Dwight Brass said he feared school boards would end up allowing teachers’ pay to rise too much, and with it property taxes. “The trend would be the school board would want to avoid conflict” with the union, he said.
Dan Rossmiller, a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, said removing the QEO while leaving revenue caps in place would mean disaster for schools. Their main expense — teacher salaries — would grow much faster than their revenues would be permitted to grow, he said.
“It’s certainly going to mean cuts in teachers’ positions if it does go away,” he said of the QEO.

The New WEAC

George Lightbourn:

This is an especially timely discussion as control of the Wisconsin Legislature hangs in the balance with the upcoming fall election. While it is widely believed that the state Senate will remain in Democratic hands, the Assembly is altogether another matter. With a mere five vote majority and a nation anxious to blame Republicans for both the war in Iraq as well as the weak economy, Republican retention of an Assembly majority is definitely in play. If the Assembly were to tumble into Democratic hands, Democrats would control all of state government. At long last, the thinking goes, WEAC will rise up and ensure its minions in the Capitol do what they have promised; expunge the QEO from state law books.
But is that the case? Maybe not. That picture might have been clear a few years ago, but it is less clear today.
The QEO Through Time
To understand the roots of the popular caricature of WEAC, a short history lesson is in order. As we close in on a generation under the QEO, it is easy to forget what life was like before Tommy Thompson signed the QEO into law. In the 1980s and into the early 1990s a statewide furrowing of the brow and wringing of hands occurred every Christmas season when local governments slid property tax bills into our mailboxes. In 1989 school taxes rose 9% followed by a 9.4% increase in 1990 and a 10% jump in 1991. The last straw came in 1993 when schools added 12.3% to the property tax bill. Of course every year the school tax was layered on top of the tax bill from cities, villages and town so property taxes were routinely increasing at double-digit rates.
While property taxes might not have stirred the public psyche as much as say the Vietnam War had, it was close. Every state budget discussion started and ended with property taxes. It was the third rail of Wisconsin politics. The property tax discussion drove a wedge between Democrats and Republicans; it caused short fuses between state and local governments and between general governments and schools. And everyone understood who was operating the jack that kept ratcheting up property taxes: it was teachers.
No, it wasn’t just teachers, it was WEAC. What generations of teachers had known as a helpful service organization, overnight had assumed the pale of a hard-line labor union. It was as though WEAC had undergone its own version of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The side of the organization that provided teacher services was taken over by the union side. Overnight it became clear that nothing mattered to the staff at WEAC if it didn’t entail: raising teacher pay, protecting jobs, or improving working conditions. This was the familiar mantra of every labor union from the autoworkers to air traffic controllers.

Referendum Discussion: Vicki McKenna & Don Severson

Download or listen to this 15MB mp3 audio file.

  • $367M+ Budget notes and links
  • Don Severson’s memo to the Madison School Board on the current financial situation.
  • Marj Passman and Don Severson discuss school finance with Mitch Henck.
  • Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s budget and recommendations memorandum to the School board (1MB PDF):

    In 1993, three pieces of legislation were enacted by the State of Wisconsin directly affecting school districts throughout the state. These pieces of legislation created revenue limits, created the state’s commitment to two·thirds funding, and created the qualified economic offer (QEO) in Wisconsin. Since 1993 revenue limits in Wisconsin have allowed the Madison Metropolitan School District to increase revenues annually by 2.2% on average. Conversely the QEO requires school boards to offer a comprehensive salary and benefit package to certified teaching staff of not less than 3.8% annually to avoid binding arbitration. Recognizing that the Madison Metropolitan School District’s budget is comprised of 84% salary and benefits, it must be recognized that while our revenues increase annually by 2.2%, the largest portion of our budget is mandated to minimally increase by 3.8%. Due to these competing pieces of legislation, the Board of Education since 1993 has reduced program and services by over $60 million to comply with state mandated revenue limits, of which $35 million has occurred within the past five years.
    Since the 1992·93 School Year the Madison Metropolitan School District has increased the total tax levy by $74,944,431 through the projected 2008·09 property tax levy. This amounts to an average annual increase of 2.56% since the 1992·93 School Year (see Attachment A). During that same time frame from 1992·93 through the projections for the 2008·09 property tax rate, the Madison Metropolitan School District has decreased the total tax rate from $20.69 to a projected rate of $9.92 for the 2008·09 School Year (see Attachment B).

    Nerad also posted a 3 year financial forecast (250K PDF)

  • City of Madison Assessor: 2008 Madison Property Tax base (PDF)
  • A look at the growth in Madison’s tax base: In 1990, the City of Madison included 40,069 parcels, a number that grew to 64,976 in 2005. Assessment and parcel growth mitigates tax levy increases, or allows it to decline (though this of course, depends on the real estate market along with tax policies).

Critics on all sides of teacher pay law:

In rare move, arbitration threatened in Waukesha

Amy Hetzner:

Next week, Waukesha School District leaders plan to take an unusual step, one they contend is necessary after cutting $9.4 million worth of services over the past seven years: They will sit down with their teachers union to hash out a contract with help from a mediator.
What’s more unusual is the culprit that Waukesha Superintendent David Schmidt blames in part for the district’s financial woes: the state law intended to help school districts keep down teacher compensation costs.
“To some degree, we’d like to say we can control our labor costs,” Schmidt said. “The QEO makes that harder.”
Schmidt has company in other state school officials who contend the QEO, known more formally as the qualified economic offer law, has created fiscal problems for them. After 15 years with the law, considered one leg of the state’s so-called three-legged stool for school funding, calls for change are coming from many quarters.
At issue is what some have called the cap gap that exists between the roughly 2% increase in school revenue allowed annually under current law and the 3.8% boost in salaries and benefits practically guaranteed by the QEO, which says school boards can avoid arbitration if they offer teachers compensation increases in that amount.
“That’s probably the core issue right now within our system that’s causing some frustration from school district administrators,” said state Rep. Brett Davis (R-Oregon).
Although Waukesha school officials have not revealed the details of talks with the teachers union, indications are that their unusual move this year toward mediation and possible arbitration is to seek less than a 3.8% package increase for their teachers.
In addition to school leaders who complain the law’s conflict with revenue caps has forced staff cuts, teachers say the QEO increase has suppressed salaries. Critics contend it has helped educators keep inflated benefits.

MMSD / MTI Contract Negotiations Begin: Health Care Changes Proposed

Susan Troller: The district and Madison Teachers Inc. exchanged initial proposals Wednesday to begin negotiations on a new two-year contract that will run through June 30, 2009. The current one expires June 30. “Frankly, I was shocked and appalled by the school district’s initial proposal because it was replete with take-backs in teachers’ rights as … Continue reading MMSD / MTI Contract Negotiations Begin: Health Care Changes Proposed

Some interesting insight into another district’s budgeting process, knowledge, and challenges.

Shane Samuels: There are those who like to work with numbers, and then there are those who figure school budgets. They’re not necessarily the same person. School finance consists of a labyrinth of property values, student enrollment totals, federal aid, and state aid. Only two people in Chetek claim to understand the funding formula from … Continue reading Some interesting insight into another district’s budgeting process, knowledge, and challenges.

WEAC, the EAW & the Waukesha School Board

Waukesha Taxpayer’s League: alaries and benefits are by far the largest portion of the School District budget and the increases dictate what the School Board must do with programs and corresponding reductions in programs. During the ’90’s, negotiations used to begin with presentation of proposals of both sides, the EAW (Education Association of Waukesha) and … Continue reading WEAC, the EAW & the Waukesha School Board

Concessions Made in Advance of MTI Negotiations by a Majority of the Madison School Board

It will be interesting to see how voters on February 20 and April 3 view this decision by a majority of the Madison School Board: Should the Board and Administration continue to give away their ability to negotiate health care benefits ($43.5M of the 2006/2007 budge) before MTI union bargaining begins? Read the 2005 MMSD/MTI … Continue reading Concessions Made in Advance of MTI Negotiations by a Majority of the Madison School Board

How Should We Fund Education?

Chris Lufter: We are sure that this statement will shock this community: The Waukesha Taxpayers League agrees that we have an educational funding problem in Wisconsin. While there may be widespread agreement with that statement, how we got into this predicament and, more importantly, how we resolve the funding issue is where disagreement exists. As … Continue reading How Should We Fund Education?

School Finance: K-12 Tax & Spending Climate

School spending has always been a puzzle, both from a state and federal government perspective as well as local property taxpayers. In an effort to shed some light on the vagaries of K-12 finance, I’ve summarized below a number of local, state and federal articles and links. The 2007 Statistical Abstract offers a great deal … Continue reading School Finance: K-12 Tax & Spending Climate

Wisconsin Governor Doyle Again Focuses on Teacher Pay

Steven Walters: In what could be the biggest fight yet over repealing the controversial law limiting the pay raises of Wisconsin’s teachers, Gov. Jim Doyle and Democrats who run the state Senate once again are taking aim at it. The so-called qualified economic offer law was passed in 1993 to control property taxes on homes. … Continue reading Wisconsin Governor Doyle Again Focuses on Teacher Pay


Some interesting changes in the Madison School Board’s Governance this week: Renewed administrator contracts for one year rather than the customary two years. Via Sandy Cullen: The administration had proposed a two year wage and benefit package for administrators, but School Board President Johnny Winston Jr. said board members did not want to be locked … Continue reading Change

Teachers bar shift in health coverage

Madison’s teachers union said Friday it will not agree to reopen its contract with the School District to renegotiate health-care benefits, dashing hopes the district could find cheaper coverage. A joint committee of district and union representatives has been studying rising health- care costs, but both sides had to agree to reopen the 2005-07 contract … Continue reading Teachers bar shift in health coverage

WisPolitics Lunch (2/3/2006): Mark Green and Scott Walker

WisPolitics.com is hosting a lunch for Republican Gubernatorial candidates Mark Green and Scott Walker who are facing off to run against incumbent Democrat Jim Doyle this fall. Cost is $15 for Madison Club members and $19 for non-members. Call Loretta to RSVP at the Madison Club, 608-255-4861. This is perhaps one of the best local … Continue reading WisPolitics Lunch (2/3/2006): Mark Green and Scott Walker

“How to Reform Your Local School Board”

Steve Loehrke: I have been the President of the Weyauwega-Fremont School Board for the last four years. I own a small realty and appraisal company,a small computer, and Internet website development company. I recently founded a non-profit charitable corporation to help underprivileged children in Wisconsin. I serve on the school board primarily as a concerned … Continue reading “How to Reform Your Local School Board”

School Daze – Answers to funding questions are elusive

This is an e-mail sent to the Madison CARES listserve. Enjoy. By DENNIS A. SHOOK – Freeman Staf (April 16, 2005) The hardest question on any test for a state legislator is what should be done to fund education? Some legislators would answer “nothing” while others would answer “whatever it takes.’” But common sense tells … Continue reading School Daze – Answers to funding questions are elusive

Our School Board Needs a Budget: No Budget Yet We Have a Cut List that Harms Underprivileged Children’s Education and Divides Parent Groups

The inside, unsigned cover page of MMSD’s non-budget cut list that tells the public that the administration is protecting math and reading for young children. For $12,000+ per student, the administration will teach our kids to read and to do math – what happened to science and social studies? What happened to educating the whole … Continue reading Our School Board Needs a Budget: No Budget Yet We Have a Cut List that Harms Underprivileged Children’s Education and Divides Parent Groups

MMSD Budget – Parents Suggestions Over Time

Parent Presentations on the District’s Budget Decisionmaking Process: Since Spring 2002, other parents and I have spoken to the School Board on a number of issues related to the District’s budget decisionmaking promise. We often presented this information in a power point presentation in an easy-to-read and understand format. I’m now in the process of … Continue reading MMSD Budget – Parents Suggestions Over Time

2005 Referendums?

Lee Sensenbrenner writes about Madison Schools Superintendent Art Rainwater’s recent comments regarding three possible 2005 referendums: “Facing growing subdivisions on the city’s edges, the expiration of a maintenance fund, and state laws that annually force cuts, the Madison School Board may be looking at three referendums next year.” State laws do not directly “force cuts”. … Continue reading 2005 Referendums?