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Saturday

April 2014

19

Kettle Moraine Schools sift through Fair Funding

School Board questions plan's funding

As state aid to Kettle Moraine School District declined over the years, the KM School Board has advocated for change in the funding formula at the state level.

With the Fair Funding for our Future plan, released Nov. 12, State Superintendent Tony Evers stressed that Wisconsin can reinvest in its schools and fix its school finance system while protecting property taxpayers.

However, how it willimpact KMSD and how it will be paid for statewide are a couple of questions the board would like answered as the district sifts through the Fair Funding plan.

"I think it's imperative as a board for us to understand what Evers proposal means for Kettle Moraine," said school board member Colin Butler on Nov. 20. "Until we can understand what it means, we can't make a good argument."

"I am encouraged that the Department of Public Instruction and legislators are examining the funding of public schools in order to provide sustainability for public education. We will continue to monitor recommendations that come forward and be involved with policy making in order to insure that Kettle Moraine is represented," KMSD Superintendent Pat Deklotz said.

The Fair Funding plan is part of the Department of Public Instruction's 2013-15 state budget request. The proposal would increase general and categorical school aid by 2.4 percent in the first year of the budget and 5.5 percent in 2014-15 to provide state support for education and property tax relief. Those funding levels and the plan's proposal for predictable growth in state aid create a pathway to restoring the state's two-thirds funding commitment to education by 2017.

"We can do right for our kids," Evers said in a new release. "This Fair Funding plan is a realistic and ready first step that providessolutions that are good for education and our economic future."

The plan would provide a guaranteed amount of funding to school districts for each student ($3,000)regardless of where they live. It incorporates a poverty weighting factor of 30 percent into the formula to account for family income rather than just a district's property values. The plan would direct all state aid to school districts, folding in the school levy and first dollar credits

"We owe it to taxpayers to bring truth to budgeting," Evers said. "Fair Funding for Our Future makes Wisconsin's school funding formula more fair, sustainable, and transparent. It maximizesexisting resources and sets the stage for greater state support for education in future years."

The plan restores revenue limit authority to all districts. It calls for an increase in the per pupil revenue limit to $225 per student in the first year of the budget and $230 per student in 2014-15.

To assist rural schools, the department's budget request seeks full funding for the sparsity categorical aid program to support about 130 districts that have small student populations and large geographic boundaries. Changes to transportation aid and the addition of a new high-cost transportation aid program would further support rural districts that must transport children significant distances to school.

The Fair Funding plan would hold the line on net property taxes and result in a gross property tax decrease of more than 18 percent. All school districts would have increased or the same state school aid.

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