This reporting below is symptomatic of a larger issue that we have been unsuccessful at conveying to our state legislators so far, the need for fundamental school finance reform. It’s not a question of taking money from one school and giving it to another. It’s about funding all our schools adequately. This issue really comes down to a question of our future priorities as a society. The quicker we get the dialogue shifted to a new level of discourse, the quicker we will see real and sustainable reform.
A legislative resolution calling for school funding reform by July 2009 is purely politics and won’t get to a vote in the Assembly, a North Woods legislator said Friday.
State Rep. Dan Meyer (R-Eagle River) said school funding reform is such a difficult issue that little progress will be made until the governor’s office makes it a priority.
“The problem is that we’ve got 99 Assembly people who are all representing different school districts,” said Meyer. “I’d support it if my district got more money, but then we’d be taking from someone else. Do you think Milwaukee will jump up and down and support it? Not if they are going to lose money.”
The statements came in response to Assembly Joint Resolution 35 and Senate Joint Resolution 27, which call upon legislators to reform the school aid formula by July 1, 2009. They were co-authored by Sen. Roger Breske (D-Eland) and Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts (D-Verona).
The resolutions say that the present funding system is not working, problems are aggravated by declining enrollment, more and more referenda are being held to exceed revenue limits, and it is the job of the Legislature to change it.
Meyer, who sits on the powerful Joint Finance Committee, said budget hearings across the state have attracted teachers and school administrators who all have the same message: The formula needs to change and they need more money.
“A lot of that testimony came from educators in areas of the state where they get a lot more aid than schools in my district,” said Meyer. “The problem is, none of the schools are happy even though more than 50 cents of every state tax dollar goes to education.”