school funding

Emily Files / WUWM

If voters didn't approve a tax referendum for Milwaukee Public Schools in April, the district would have been in a dire situation. That’s according to researchers with the Wisconsin Policy Forum, which analyzes the MPS budget each year.

Emily Files

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is trying again to increase state support of schools. This time, by calling a special session for Feb. 11 on the topic. But the proposal appears to be dead on arrival with Republican leadership.  

Evers wants to use $250 million of an expected budget surplus to restore the state’s commitment to funding two-thirds of K-12 education costs.

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.

Emily Files

It’s a record-breaking year for school referendums in Wisconsin. Unofficial results show voters backed 94 percent of ballot questions in Tuesday’s election, including all in southeastern Wisconsin.

Counting elections earlier in 2018, more than $2 billion in school referendum spending has been approved this year. That surpasses the previous record of about $1.7 billion in 2016.  

Emily Files

In November’s election, voters in dozens of school districts will decide whether to further tax themselves to support schools. The 82 ballot measures would let 61 districts either borrow money to pay for projects or exceed state-imposed property tax restrictions, sometimes to cover basic costs.

special-needs-voucher-wisconsin-state-funding
Emily Files

Is state special education funding in Wisconsin unfair? School districts from Eau Claire to Oak Creek say it is. They see inequity between public schools and a relatively new voucher program.

The Special Needs Scholarship Program is another chapter in Wisconsin’s storied school choice movement. It provides an approximate $12,000 scholarship — or voucher — for students with disabilities to attend private school. The state pays for the vouchers by decreasing aid to public school districts where the students live.

Emily Files

State education chief and gubernatorial hopeful Tony Evers wants to put an additional $1.4 billion into public education over the next two years. The proposal is part of the Department of Public Instruction’s request for the 2019-2021 state budget.

Evers, a Democrat, heads the agency as state superintendent. The spending plan comes in the middle of a tight race between Evers and incumbent Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican.

Rachel Morello

Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) face fierce competition for students from private voucher schools, suburban schools and of course, charter schools. The question of whether MPS should expand its own portfolio of charter schools can be controversial. 

On the other side, charter schools that contract with MPS sometimes disagree with the way the district allocates money.  

Rachel Morello

Public and private schools may have to further compete against each other for students and families, if the Trump administration rolls out an anticipated new tax credit.

Rachel Morello

For the first time in quite a few years, Wisconsin classrooms stand to gain additional money from the state -- and public school advocates want to make sure it happens.

Hundreds of folks showed up to speak their minds at a public hearing Wednesday in Milwaukee, including a strong contingent of parents and teachers.

Rachel Morello

Imagine someone hands you a bonus -- a few hundred extra dollars. How would you spend the money? That’s a question facing Wisconsin school districts.

agcreativelab, fotolia

School spending accounts for roughly one-third of Wisconsin’s budget every year, and if state education leaders succeed in convincing the state to adopt their budget proposal, districts could see even more money over the next two years – particularly if they serve a large population of economically disadvantaged students.

Five Things To Know About MPS' 2017 Budget

May 26, 2016
Rachel Morello

Milwaukee Public Schools' Board of Directors voted to pass a 2017 budget plan at their monthly meeting Thursday night. 

We know what you might be thinking: budgets are dense. Lots of numbers, figures and heavy education-related jargon. 

There were 44 school funding referenda on ballots Tuesday.