school funding

Emily Files

The small southeastern Wisconsin school district of Palmyra-Eagle will not dissolve, despite serious financial problems. A state-appointed board made the decision at a meeting Thursday.

Palmyra-Eagle, which spans rural parts of Waukesha and Jefferson counties, would have been the first school district to dissolve under Wisconsin’s current funding system. But on Thursday night, that was averted — for now.

Emily Files

In April, Milwaukee Public Schools will ask voters to approve a property tax referendum for the first time in 26 years.

The school board decided Thursday night to ask for $87 million in additional revenue. This would allow the district to exceed state-imposed property tax caps.

READ: MPS To Consider Referendum For Educational Programming

Emily Files

Raising money through voter referendums has become a common tool for school districts across Wisconsin because the state restricts their taxing authority. And now the state’s largest district, Milwaukee Public Schools, plans to follow suit.

The last time MPS attempted to raise taxes through a referendum, voters shot it down. That was in 1993 and leaders were seeking $366 million for building projects. Now, more than 25 years later, the district plans to try again on the April 2020 ballot.

Emily Files

The nearly-broke Palmyra-Eagle School District in southeastern Wisconsin could be the first in the state to dissolve under current funding structures.

That worries the surrounding school districts. At a recent public hearing, some of Palmyra-Eagle’s neighbors warned the dissolution could create a domino effect — leading other school districts to collapse.

Emily Files

This week, Milwaukee Public Schools formed a new community task force that will guide the district's decision on a potential spring tax referendum.

The task force will recommend priorities that a voter referendum could support, like small class sizes or increasing the number of school counselors. But the MPS Board has already charged forward with new multimillion-dollar commitments that may strain the district’s budget.

Emily Files

An advisory referendum on whether the rural Palmyra-Eagle Area School District should dissolve shows how divided the community is on the issue – and the dramatic difference in opinion between the towns of Palmyra and Eagle.

More than 2,000 residents voted in the election. According to unofficial results, 53% cast ballots in favor of the district shuttering its doors. In the town and village of Palmyra, 73% of voters were against the district dissolving. In the town and village of Eagle, 74% supported dissolution.

Emily Files / WUWM

In most Wisconsin school districts, 4-year-olds can attend kindergarten. But the programs are usually for just part of the day. State legislators are now considering two bills that could expand full-day kindergarten options for children under 5.

Emily Files / WUWM

This spring, Milwaukee Public School leaders agreed to reinstate employee salary schedules, which provide workers with predictable raises based on experience and education level.

It’s a compensation system that MPS eliminated after Act 10 deprived unions of most bargaining powers. Now, the district is reversing course with the goal of stabilizing its workforce.

Emily Files

Wisconsin's first state budget under former education chief, now-Gov. Tony Evers provides a $570 million increase for K-12 schools. Republican lawmakers crafted the spending plan, which resulted in a smaller boost than Evers proposed. 

Whether public school advocates see that as a success or failure depends on who you ask.

Emily Files / WUWM

Chances are good your local school district has gone directly to voters asking for more money to stay afloat. Tight state funding and restrictions on local taxing power have pushed more than 70% of Wisconsin school districts to seek operating referendums.

These referendums aren’t about borrowing money for new buildings. They’re requests for more property taxes to sustain basic costs.

Emily Files

Wisconsin's powerful Joint Finance Committee will meet next Thursday to discuss funding for K-12 schools. Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, wants to increase state support by $1.4 billion – including major infusions for special education, general aid, and mental health. It would be a windfall for districts after years of mostly stagnant funding.

Emily Files

Tony Evers’ background is in education, including serving as the top education official in Wisconsin. Now that he is governor, Evers is proposing a raft of school funding changes. He delivered his first budget address on Feb. 28.

Emily Files

At Tony Evers’ inauguration last week, he repeated one of his central promises: that he would invest more in public education.

“We talked about what’s best for our kids is best for our state,” Evers said. “And that means we need to fully fund our public schools at every level.”

Screenshot/Wisconsin Eye

There could be major funding changes on the way for Wisconsin public schools. A lawmaker-led committee on education spending met for the final time Wednesday. It put forward a list of recommendations for legislative action.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding traveled around Wisconsin in 2018. It took testimony from administrators, teachers, parents and students. The consensus: an overhaul of Wisconsin’s education funding system is overdue.

Emily Files

For 25 years, the Wisconsin legislature has restricted how much school boards can raise local property taxes. Some education leaders argue that the rules put schools on an uneven playing field. And they say the tax ceilings have become untenable in recent years.

The restrictions at issue are called revenue limits. They impact 80 to 90 percent of school boards’ budgets, controlling how much a board can spend in state general aid and property taxes. The result: school boards' ability to raise mill rates is confined to a legislature-determined dollar amount.

Pages