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December 22, 2005

School-funding update from Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES)

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.

Washburn joins list of districts in budget distress
Wisconsin schools serve too few breakfasts
Advocates tie education to brighter economic future
More evidence behind pre-school for disadvantaged kids
Arkansas next in line to change school-funding system
School-funding reform calendar

Washburn joins list of districts in budget distress

The Washburn School District Board took a look into its crystal ball, earlier this week, and saw "the future wasn't bright ("

District Business Manager Ron Hollstadt said the district will likely have to slice between $225,000 and $257,000 from the 2006-07 budget to comply with state spending limits. He also said that, with a projected decline in enrollment, Washburn is looking at potentially having to cut $1 million by the 2009-10 school year.

"It's going to take a lot of head scratching and belt tightening to come up with creative solutions for next year," Hollstadt said.


Wisconsin schools serve too few breakfasts

Despite what we know about the health and education benefits of breakfast, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that some think Wisconsin schools serve too few morning meals (

Ruth Jonen, national president of the School Nutrition Association -- announcing the start of a new program called "Got breakfast?" -- said "Wisconsin is America's Dairyland. You need to do a better job. Former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole and former Democratic candidate George McGovern took part in the event in Washington.

Wisconsin ranked next to last in the percentage of eligible schools taking part. State schools superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster said scheduling, long bus routes, and budget concerns are reasons for the poor but improving participation.


Advocates tie education to brighter economic future

Ohio is much like Wisconsin, so state government in Madison should pay attention to 3,000 interviews that say, once again, that the best way to build a prosperous future economy is to improve the state's schools (

The interviews were conducted in northeast Ohio by "Voices and Choices (," a public engagement initiative of a collaboration of 70 regional philanthropies. The response from the interviews reflects the research on the links between schools and economic success. For example, one report says there are "strong indications that quality public schools increase national economic growth and competitiveness, state and local business attraction, and residential real estate values."

Additionally, studies show that home buyers are willing to pay more for a home close to high achieving schools. In rural contexts, small, community-oriented schools can narrow the achievement gap and create a more economically advanced work-force.


More evidence behind pre-school for disadvantaged kids

In the best of times ... when state budgets aren't quite as tight ... universal pre-school is at the top of everyone's list. With tight budgets, however, it is important that those who most need early childhood education get it.

An article in The Seattle Times ( quotes one Head Start worker in Portland as saying, "We've got to get to 100 percent for low-income kids first. Those kids are most at risk -- they don't have computers at home, they don't go on trips to the zoo or on vacation. By being in Head Start, they get those experiences."

Annette Dieker, of Mount Hood Community College, says universal pre-school would be open to low-income children, but she worries that a broader program ... despite its track record of success ... might lack the extra support offered by programs like Head Start, which in Oregon relies on state and federal funding to operate.


Arkansas next in line to change school-funding system

Earlier this month, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that "the state must comply with its own education funding laws," reform the way the state funds its schools (

The court held that "the General Assembly failed to comply with (these laws) and, by doing so, retreated from its prior actions." The General Assembly could not have adequately funded schools for the 2005-07 biennium, the court found, because it had made no effort "to determine what adequate funding should be," as required by its own laws.

The court set a December 1, 2006 deadline "too allow the necessary time to correct the constitutional deficiencies."


School-funding reform calendar

Jan. 16, 2006 -- School-funding reform presentation in Platteville for the Southwestern Wisconsin Education Association, 7 p.m. at Platteville High School
Jan. 23, 2006 -- School-funding reform presentation, 6:30 p.m., in the St. Francis School District (
Jan. 25, 2006 -- School-funding reform presentation, 7 p.m., at the Markesan Middle School (, 100 East Vista Boulevard
Feb. 22, 2006 -- School-funding reform presentation at Marinette School District High School (

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.

Please feel free to share your copy of the WAES school-funding update with anyone interested in school-finance reform. Contact Tom Beebe ( at 414-384-9094 for details.

Posted by Johnny Winston, Jr. at December 22, 2005 11:37 AM
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