Press Release – 11-10-16

For Immediate Release
Contacts available for comment/interview:
John Gaier, AEF President, Neilsville School District – jgaier@neillsville.k12.wi.us (715)743-3323
Scott Wittkopf, Study Author and Research – scottw@frame4future.com (608)628-8535

AEF study results are critical to statewide reliance on school referendum

While school funding has reached crisis levels for many Wisconsin school districts, Tuesday’s referendum results show that people care deeply about investing in their community schools. Yet due to a broken school funding system, educational opportunities for many children today are even more dependent on where they live, and their financial status.

The Wisconsin State Constitution and State Supreme Court call for us to provide a “sound, basic education” in “as nearly uniform as practicable” public schools for every child. Despite this, throughout Wisconsin, community school districts are faced with relying on local referendum to meet the basic needs of our students.

On Tuesday night, nearly 70 referendum statewide sought to fill a $1.3 billion hole in our state’s public education investment. In a resounding affirmation of Wisconsin’s community schools, all but twelve passed. The results, however, are also a resounding vote of no confidence in our broken school funding system. For every school district passing a referendum, there are many more who cannot financially afford or politically attempt to pass a referendum.

Our recent study shows that our broken school funding system is already having a negative effect on student educational outcome. Most importantly:

1. Greater funding inequity saw DPI School District Report Card scores drop significantly.

2. Greater funding inequity saw the benchmark 8th grade math scores drop significantly. In many districts, we found that adequate funding is actually the difference between proficiency and non-proficiency in math.

Through our research, we have found that the school funding system in Wisconsin has created funding disparity in the majority of school districts for over a decade. The need for school districts to rely on record level referendum just to meet basic needs, is further evidence of these inequities and contribute to our systemic education problems.

The AEF will continue to work with its statewide partners and present research-based evidence to ensure that all children are empowered through public education no matter where they live, no matter what their circumstances, and that Wisconsin taxpayers are treated fairly.

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