Write Your Letters to Legislators NOW on School Funding

Good afternoon everyone,

As you are probably aware due to all the recent press on the MMSD budget, the school district has to make dramatic cuts this year in order to comply with the state-mandated revenue caps. We have reached the point as a district where all cuts are to the bone and are very painful. Although we can always find efficiencies in any operation, there is no way that this could account for the $10.5M cuts we have to make. The main culprit is the state system for funding public education. It is broken. Until this is changed, we will have to cut more and more each year. On March 29, The Board of Education (BOE) held a community advocacy meeting, focusing short-term on the governor’s budget and longer-term on the state funding system. The focus of the meeting was on how we, as a community, can advocate to bring additional funds into the district (short-term governor’s budget) and change the state funding system (long-term). We had a great turn-out but need more help to get the word out about our issues.

The meeting was broken into 3 segments: 1) education on the state funding system; 2) overview of the governor’s budget; and 3) advocacy. We had an extensive amount of Q&A with the audience.

Information Presented

Information presented is located on the district web site http://www.mmsd.org Click on “Take Action on School Funding”

I have also attached the talking points and sample letters that can be sent to legislators. The Governor has included some items in his budget that, if passed, could bring additional funds back to MMSD this year and next year. The 2 primary areas are in Special Education Aid and Bilingual-Bicultural Aid. We need to call or send letters/emails to our legislators in the next 2-3 weeks to support the aid increase in the governor’s budget in these 2 areas. If passed, we could receive an additional $1M in funding from the state this year and $1.7M the following year. This is explained in more detail on the web site and in the attachments. There are also other areas listed that could bring additional funds into the district.

The state is not doing their job. Unfunded mandates from the state are strangling the district. In 1993 when revenue limit started, the special education reimbursement was 45%. It is now 28.6% from the state. For the bilingual-bicultural aid, the state’s commitment to funding has dropped from 33% to 12%. If the state had met its commitments to funding, the MMSD would not have to cut its budget this year. We would have an additional $11.6M in funding (our initial cuts were targeted at $10.5M).
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How Can You Help?
It is important to write letters to your legislators in the next 2-3 weeks regarding the Governor’s budget. See the talking points and sample letters for help. If you have questions, please let me know. To find out who your legislators are:
http://waml.legis.state.wi.us/

Write your letters and ask your friends to do the same.
Longer-Term: We are setting up a community *”Legislative Action Team”*. We are developing an email list of people who want to be involved. We will soon be setting up follow-up meetings and action items to start the longer-term lobbying to change the state funding process. If you would like to be added to this list, please send me an email.

Thanks for your help. Now is the time to come together as a community to advocate for change. The future of our schools and our community is dependent upon this. Please circulate this to all you know. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Arlene Silveira
Madison Board of Education

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Filed under AMPS, School Finance, Take Action

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