The head of the state Department Public Instruction is calling for a broad restructuring of the funding formula used to determine how much state aid schools receive.
The proposal unveiled by DPI Superintendent Tony Evers in Madison Thursday calls for a fair and practical change to the framework of school funding, without relying on massive property tax increases, cutting budgets, or eliminating educational programs.
A primary component of Evers’ proposal is shifting a $900 million Levy Tax Credit into general school aids. The fund currently goes to property owners, but Evers says the money could be used to replace levy increases passed by many districts each year. Because of revenue controls, he says schools districts would likely need to reduce the size of their levy.
Evers also wants to calculate aid based on student poverty, instead of just using property tax values. He says far too many schools in the state have a high number of students who qualify for free and reduced lunches, an indicator used to measure poverty in schools. However, he says many of those same districts receive little or no state aid because property values are too high. He says there should be a minimum level of state aid provided for every student in the state, regardless of where they live.
Evers says his plan is intended to spark discussion among candidates for the Legislature and in the governor’s race. Many of the changes included in the proposal would require action from state lawmakers and the next governor.