The price tag is hefty, but a broad coalition of education groups across the state has a plan to change school funding in Wisconsin.
The School Finance Network has unveiled the plan during news conferences around the state, including Wednesday at Racine Unified's Walden Three High School.
"It's a plan that controls property taxes," said Jack Linehan, executive director of the Southeast Wisconsin Schools Alliance , adding that the plan is designed to build on the current funding formula so that it benefits all districts, while addressing the needs of students. "That was one of the features that we needed to build in, that it controls property taxes for residents around the state, by increasing state aid. We'll need more funds, but we realize they ought not come from property taxes.
Linehan said the current system isn't working. "Changing the way public schools are funded is really necessary. The over arching understanding that most everybody can connect to is the economic changes that can come with a better educated population." The plan calls for increasing state school funding by 1 percent a year, or about $550-million, over the next four to five years. The proposal will be the subject of a hearing before the Assembly Education Committee in March.
Linehan said too many school districts have seen their revenues decline, and for more than just the last couple of years. "Ten years of a two or three percent gap between the revenue a school receives, and the costs to continue the services that they provide, really is an unacceptable and an untenable future."