MADISON – Governor Scott Walker attended the Wisconsin Association of School Boards’ 97th State Education Convention in Milwaukee today to discuss the state’s historically high investment in K-12 education and increased support for Wisconsin’s rural school districts. Governor Walker also expressed his support for proposed legislation increasing Sparsity Aid and providing a low revenue adjustment for certain districts, authored by State Representative John Nygren (R—Marinette) and Senator Howard Marklein (R—Spring Green).
“We increased funding by $200 per student for every school in the state this year, and we’re adding another $204 per student on top of that next year,” said Governor Walker. “Under our budget, we invested more in K-12 education than ever before in state history in actual dollars, including high-cost transportation aid and technology upgrades to help offset the unique challenges faced by our rural schools. Together, we’re driving student success throughout Wisconsin and ensuring our children get the excellent education they deserve, regardless of where they live."
Representative Nygren and Senator Marklein are authoring legislation (Assembly Bill 835 / Senate Bill 690) that increases Sparsity Aid by $6.4 million for the 2018-19 school year. The bill provides an increase from $300 per pupil to $400 per pupil for districts that currently qualify for Sparsity Aid.
The Sparsity Aid Program aims to offset the challenges faced by low-population school districts by providing $300 in per-pupil funding for school districts with 745 students or less and a population density of less than 10 students per square mile.
The bill also includes an increase to the Low Revenue Ceiling from $9,100 to $9,400 for the 2018-19 school year, with the Low Revenue Ceiling rising by $100 per year thereafter up to $9,800 by the 2022-23 school year. In order to ensure accountability to local voters, districts where a referendum to raise the revenue limit was rejected by the voters within the past three years would not be allowed to raise their revenue limit for some time.
Investments from the Governor’s budget supporting rural school districts include: increased funding for High-Cost Transportation Aid to help offset the increased cost of transporting students to schools in rural areas; Broadband Expansion grants providing schools and students access to fast, reliable internet service in underserved areas, as well as mobile hotspots for school buses; and $6.65 million to address students’ mental health needs. These initiatives are in addition to the historically-high $11.5 billion investment in K-12 education included the 2017-19 state budget that provides a $200 per student funding increase for every student in every school in the state this year and, on top of that, an additional increase of $204 per student next year.