Key K-12 budget provisions for Madison Schools

A memo delivered to the Governor and our legislative delegation by MMSD. These would serve as good talking points when (not if!) you call or write your Reps, the Conference Committee or the Senate and Assembly leadership.

Thomas J. Mertz

Key K-12 budget provisions for Madison Schools
TO: Members of the 2007-09 Budget Conference Committee

FROM: Joe Quick, MMSD Legislative Liaison/Communication Specialist

DATE: July 18, 2007

RE: Key K-12 budget provisions for Madison Schools

Wisconsin’s school districts face a monumental challenge: continued pursuit of academic improvement by students, under the pressure of annual decreases in resources due to state-imposed revenue limits. While general school aids have increased annually, the resources are not targeted to classrooms.

Since the first year of revenue limits in 1993-94, Madison Schools have pared over $60 million from its annual cost-to-continue budget. This has forced larger class size at all grade levels, curtailed services for children in special education, diminished course offerings and extracurricular opportunities for children, and many other detrimental affects. Empty rhetoric maintaining that school officials need to find more “creative” ways to provide more with less is disingenuous, and harmful to our state’s premier K-12 system.

The following lists critical elements of the K-12 budget important for Madison Schools.

Allowable Revenue Limit Increase — Support the Senate position to provide an inflation-adjusted per pupil increase of $264 in 07-08 and $270 in 08-09. Where is the logic in penalizing a school district with an allowable $200 per student revenue limit increase because a district has already settled 2007-08 and 2008-09 contracts, as is the case with Madison and a few dozen other districts?

SAGE — Support the Senate position, ensuring the $250 per pupil increase for SAGE students — the first increase in the program’s 10-year history. This is in accord with the agreement between the Governor and legislative Republicans in 2006, as part of the Milwaukee voucher program enrollment expansion. Oppose Assembly action to dismantle SAGE by making 2nd and 3rd grade optional.

School Safety — Support the Senate position to provide revenue limit flexibility to help ensure safety for school staff and students, by allowing $100 per pupil to be spent — outside the revenue limits — for the critical needs of school safety equipment/personnel.

Bilingual-Bicultural Aid — Support the Senate position, which provides enough funding to maintain the inadequate resources for this state and federally mandated program. When revenue limits began, school districts were reimbursed by the state for 33% of related program expenses. With the additional funds recommended by the Governor and supported by the Senate, the reimbursement remains at 12%.

Special Education Aid — Support the Senate position to increase special education aid by $53.6 million, nudging the state support for special education to 29% by the end of the biennium. When revenue limits began, districts were reimbursed for almost 45% of costs.

Combined, since the inception of revenue limits, the diminished state reimbursement for SPED and bilingual-bicultural aid to Madison Schools translated to a loss of $11.6 million in resources for 2006-07. The District estimates it will have to cut $5-7 million from its “cost to continue” budget for 2008-09 in order to comply with revenue limits.

School Breakfast reimbursement — Support the Senate position to increase by five cents the reimbursement from $0.10 to $0.15 per meal served.

Chapter 220 — Oppose Assembly provision to eliminate the program, a loss of nearly $500,000 for Madison Schools.

Policy Items — Delete policy items in the K-12 portion of the budget, including, but not limited to: school referenda elections, the “autism scholarship” program, distribution of Common School Fund resources to school districts, elimination of the Qualified Economic Offer, and, the expansion of the Milwaukee voucher program to all of Milwaukee County and Racine County.

If you have questions about these positions, or would like more information, please contact me at 663-1902.

C: Madison Legislative Delegation
Gov. Jim Doyle

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