Public ed financing meeting notes at MG 3-27-2011

Public Financing Meeting (250+ in attendance)

Susan Fox MG Grove School  Board Member, School Board Consortium

Ellen Lindgren, Beth Moss, Arlene Silvera,  Marj Passman, Ed Hughes, Maya Cole, Lucy Mathiak  of the Madison School Board

Dan Nerad Superintendent Madison Metro School District

Sen Mark Miller (standing ovation), Rep Brett Hulsey (not introduced)

Jeff Hurdle  DEI (History of School funding, impact of budget, Tony Evers Fair Funding Plan

How did we get here?  What are the next steps?  Parents, teachers, friends, neighbors, liberals and conservatives get together to decide how things are going to work.  Budgets say who we are and what do we think we should be. How do we move forward to protect our values and priorities and how do we move forward and protect all people.  Personal testimony to friends changes people’s mind.  Welcome to the team.


Budget:  Money comes from taxpayers (general purpose revenue from sales tax), Federal Government (28% this year via stimulus fund, usually closer to 20%), program fees (14%) segregated fees (gas tax for transportation).  There is more money this year than last year.  There is also more expense this year, greater than last year.  Government is about choosing and making sure your reps are representing your position.  K-12 education is 43% of the budget of that 8% is for voucher and charter schools.  It is a State obligation to educate children.  There is matching money from Federal Government and if you spend at least as much this year as last, you get federal money.  UW  does not get funding from Fed Government (except via financial aide).


School funding simplified :   Revenue limit –state aid = tax levy  10,200-5,300=4,900.

State committed in 1983 state limited how much you could spend on kids and state will pick up 2/3 of the tab not being done.  Qualified economic offer (QEO) not being done.

Equalization formula  $8,800 (lowest school) must around ($12,000)-$6,600=$2,200

1 in 8 school districts get little to no aide and it is all on the property tax.  Tony Evers wanted to change this to make it more fair.


Budget 2011-13 is very bad…complicated…Gov wants to lower revenue limits 5% (they always have gone up to reflect costs),  when gas prices go up schools still have to pay for transportation, still have to heat buildings, etc.  Revenue limits tends to go up 2% each year.  This year is it going down 932 million in Walker budget.  $8,800-$480=$8,320. This will take us back to where we were 2-3 years ago in terms of where State is funding.  Categorical aides eliminated children at risk, AP grants, science & tech grants, nurses, students at risk.  School breakfast and transportation going down 10%, Sage funding staying same. Milwaukee School choice is 21,000 with 8,000 going to voucher program (50-55 million in Milwaukee alone).  School  limit is only for student making 170% poverty level or less, moving forward anyone in Milwaukee can participate ($76,000 family 4 the school can charge tuition)   127,000 are in private school  and it would cost $735 million if provided a voucher.  In the future, money going for public education could be greatly lessened by voucher program that will increase over time.    Gov proposing voucher schools will not have to take the WKCE, which is a common assessment schools take to show results of voucher schools vs public schools.  Public funding equals public accountability.  Charter School have come up. Independent Charter School created by other higher education schools.  They do not have a school district jurisdiction and they take their funds directly off the top of school funding from all districts. No one is ultimately accountable.  There is no school board member to hold accountable.  What does that mean in the long run?  Gov thinks that you do not need to be licensed to be a teacher in a n independent school, just a bachelor degree.  What does this means for education in the future?  These are the worse cuts in education ever and the kids are being asked to pay for it.  In the end, it is not the state superintendent that will win the fight, it is all of you.


Monona Grove Teacher Mr  Tom Howe (22 years in teaching)  Summary of the complexity of teachings.  A day without history is a day without sunshine. Gov Nelson Dewey the common school is absolutely essential to what we do here. Democracy is dependent on the common school and is based on our shared experience.  Teaching is a tough and complex act and will be expected to do more with less.  The school culture is =going to be seriously damaged by these cuts.  Teaching is rocket science.  Knowledge, pedagogy (how kids learn), human relationships.  Teachers that are good at what they do need to help students understand and learn.  Take a moment and remember a teacher from your whole life and why they shaped your future.  Go to your neighbor, give that teacher name and say why they were important to you and why they mattered to your growth.  How do teachers get to be good?  They get to be good at by learning how to teach over their lifetime.  Teachers learn how students learn & collaboration is essential.  Exemplary teachers answer a calling, studying and learning yourself and then passing that life knowledge onto your students.       REALATIONSHIPS MATTER!  The most critical element is learning.  Professional development allows teachers to learn from each other.  This budget offers less time to meet with colleagues and discuss situations, procedures, success, failures, on a daily basis.  Success of students is directly related to quality of teachers.  New teachers benefit tremendously from mentoring by another experienced teacher.  School teaching can be isolating, especially in Middle and high school.  The relationship among the adults in the school is essential.  Veteran teachers are leaving and new teachers may go to another state or profession in the upcoming years.  Morale will suffer as increasing work.  In the classroom I see larger class sizes, fewer specialized offerings, reduced alternative learning experiences, few classroom resources, less mobility and opportunity to learn (music, art, cooking etc).

Children carry with them t school the promises and complexities of their lives.  This budget will significantly damage the conditions in the lives of the children and they will bring these issues with them to school.  How we are going to distribute fund done with grit and grace. None of us are immune and we all have a part to play.  We cannot escape history, we will be remembered in spite of ourselves.  We hold the power and bear the responsibility.


Superintendent Don Johnson Middleton-Cross Plains District on recruitment and impact of budget.  Are you capable of consistently and regularly cutting budget while improving the program at the same time?  Can we do more with less – this is an extreme example of that.  Review AB11 (Budget Repair bill) significantly changes alters public sector collective bargaining.  Requires establishment of civil service system by local units of government.  Requires public sector employees to contribute 50% of total payments to WI retirement system.  Reduces general aide and repeals revenue limit exceptions for school nurses, pupil transportation, and school safety that were to go into effect 2011-12.  Reduces 4k start up grants, bilingual-bicultural, school breakfast programs, school day milk.  Eliminates open enrollment cap for virtual schools.  Provides mandate relief for length of school days required.  Reduce travel and professional development.   Staffing adjustments through retirements.  Impact of benefit adjustments $25,000 – $3200 to pension and health insurance to $21,800.  12% reduction to new teachers, 10% mid range an 8% decrease to senior level teacher.  $31,000 1st year teacher will show a net decrease of 11.5% NET INCOME $21,000 after taxes.


What are areas that we are not seeing money in? Can we increase our energy efficiency?  Can we generate new revenue sources?  At the end of the day we all end up with more questions than answers. Can we recruit and retain quality teachers?  Can we make it worth it for new teachers to stay in teaching? Can we deliver on the promises we made to educators that retire and current staff members?  ?  How do we keep lower class size while giving teachers cost of living increases?  Try to see beyond the tunnel into the future and the light at the end of the tunnel of budget crisis and come through it whole.    What is in store for us in the future is hopefully something that we will be able to come through.


Madison East high School Student Riley Moore:  teachers negotiating for teaching and learning conditions.


Mark Elworthy, Superintendent of WI Heights:  The budget will hurt our schools and people choose to live there.  Progress has never happened without education.  Open enrollment has been difficult and it has caused us to reduce our staff.  This tears at the fabric of the community.  We need to find a way to work together with other school districts to get through the tough times.


Beth Moss: we need to support every district in the county.


Jack Norman Institute for School Future – mission is to work on state policy to insure that what the state does supports public institutions.   We are all in this together.  It is great to be a part of forums with people all over the state that are concerned about what this budget will do to all of us.  None of us are doing this alone. This is a budget very different from any other one we have had in the past.  People across the state are gathering together cross the state to understand how this will affect us and to challenge this budget and its effects.  The budget we have before us is a choice, the governor has us think that he had no choice and he had no choice. That is flat out false.  This budget is a reflection of his choice.  There are things the governor could have done and there are things the legislature can still do to change this budget.  The governor made the wrong choices.  This budget cuts 14.2 billion over the two years with K-12 schools 1.6 billion, large cuts in undetermined ways as money is moved from one area to another.  Decision making power will go from the legislators to the appointed heads of bureaus.  Corporate America and investors – large multi corporations get large tax cuts.   The only ways schools have to make up cuts is to raise fees.    We are all into this together and it is not just schools, it affects every person in this state.


Ellen Lindgren – Middleton School Board member:  Directed people to read and pick up literature.  We have this vision of people in the communities to gather together to form an advocacy group.  Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools can help get these groups started and send weekly emails on what is happening in school funding.  Joint financing committees are meeting throughout Wisconsin.  If you are empowered by the information you learned today you have to hold our legislators feet to the fire to fund education.  We need to unify our message that we would rather pay more taxes for vital services and not to cut services and education. The only people benefitting from this budget are large corporations and wealth individuals.   Send a note via snail mail, call the office and let them know that they there are other ways.


What are three messages you would like us to tell people:  raise the sales tax a penny for our kids.