State Schools Superintendent Tony Evers thinks Governor Scott Walker’s reforms have failed to help many of Wisconsin’s rural school districts. “There were policy decisions made to fund ‘x’ and not fund schools, to fund ‘y’ and not fund schools,” he said Wednesday. “My argument is, we need to have our policies be pro-education, instead of anti-education.”
Evers took his Advisory Council for Rural Schools to Kickapoo High School on Wednesday, and heard from educators who said the reforms contained in Walker’s controversial changes to collective bargaining have not helped them. “I see in it in our community. We are not revered, we are not honored. We are bloodsuckers of the society, and for too long we have taken too much out of taxpayer dollars,” said Dale Houdek, an elementary school principal with the Phillips school district. “That concept is being perpetuated, and is a serious concern.”
“We didn’t see the significant savings, even though we tried to balance some those savings on the backs of employees, because those were the tools that were given to us,” said Kickapoo Schools District Administrator Doug Olson. “They’re called compensation decreases. We need to call them what they are – they’re cuts to take home pay.”
Olson said revenue caps that have been in place for years, along with the recent cuts in state aid, are making it nearly impossible for rural districts to survive. He says the cuts will have an impact on the quality of education.
AUDIO: Doug Olson (:19)
Evers said there’s a disconnect between the need for a higher skilled workforce and cuts to education spending. “The bottom line is, we need to reinvest in our schools,” he said. “We can’t be cutting a billion dollars out of the system and expect it not to be hurt.”
Tim Hundt, WVRQ