Some districts hurt more by state cutsSchool funding experts told a state senate panel Wednesday that poor districts and those with shrinking enrollments are feeling the brunt of Wisconsin's education budget cuts.
By: By Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
School funding experts told a state senate panel Wednesday that poor districts and those with shrinking enrollments are feeling the brunt of Wisconsin's education budget cuts.
Citing research he helped conduct at the University of Wisconsin Madison, Jim Shaw made the case that the budget Governor Scott Walker signed last year disproportionately hurt poor districts. That study looked at Wisconsin's 30 highest poverty districts and its 30 lowest poverty districts. It found that the poorer districts saw sharper cuts in funding and fired more staff.
Shaw says it exacerbated what has been a long and troubling trend in Wisconsin. "The funding gap between rich, white, primarily white school districts and poorer diverse school districts was increased." Shaw says the state's top priority should be helping these schools since they need it the most.
Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance Director Todd Berry contended that whether a school was growing or shrinking was a much bigger factor in whether it could handle state budget cuts. Berry says districts with declining enrollment were near collapse in some rural areas, a problem he says is flying under everyone's radar in Madison. "There's just going to be some holes out there, and it would be better to think about it now than later. I don't think anybody here wants to have on their resume that they presided over the closing of some school districts, and it could very well happen in the next couple years.”
Berry believes one quick fix is to increase transportation funding and what is known as Sparsity Aid to these schools with shrinking enrollment. He says both moves are relatively inexpensive.