November 1, 2014

Walker details school funding bump, choice expansion

Governor Scott Walker has announced education proposals for his upcoming state budget which include a modest increase in school funding. The governor’s office says Walker plans to invest an additional $475 million for kindergarten through the university level. More than half of that money is headed toward K-12 programs.

Critics say Walker’s school funding plan falls short as the governor slashed $834 million from K-12 two years ago. “I think anyone who cares at all about public schools should be outraged at this miniscule amount he’s offering public schools,” says Sondy Pope, ranking Democrat on the Assembly’s Education Committee. “Let’s start with what he cut in the first session.”

The governor also wants incentive funding that would reward schools that perform well on the state report cards. The proposal would also give money toward lower performing schools that demonstrate innovative ideas to improve.

A teacher’s union takes issue with distinguishing certain schools over others in funding. “I believe we need to give fair funding to all of our schools, not just some of our schools,” says Betsy Kippers, vice president of WEAC.

Walker also gives more money to expand school choice including the voucher program which allows kids to go to private schools on the taxpayer dime. The plan would open up vouchers to districts that have at least two underperforming schools, at least 4,000 students, and at least 20 students intending to participate in the program.

Rep. Roberts accuses the governor and Republican majority of trying to “starve public education to build a case for privatizing for-profit schools.”

In his announcement, the governor says school choice gives “parents and students legitimate alternatives to underperforming schools.” Walker will present his budget proposal to lawmakers Wednesday.