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Blue Ribbon Commission Meeting Recap

By John Forester | December 20, 2018

The Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding met for the final time yesterday with members discussing and finalizing its recommendations for improving Wisconsin’s school funding system.  Commission members worked from a series of issue papers developed by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) based on the testimony received during the Commission’s eight public hearings around the state.

At the beginning of the meeting, Commission Co-chairs, Representative Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) and Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), said they wanted Commission members to focus on identifying the issue areas that are vitally important and must be addressed by the Legislature, as opposed to debating which option is favored in each issue paper.

In my estimation, the results of yesterdays meeting show that the Commission members strongly support significant new investments in improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps in Wisconsin.

Below, I have shared my notes on the recommendations made by the Commission on each issue paper.  Access the issue papers here.

Paper #10 – Per Pupil Adjustment and Per Pupil Aid

The Commission recommends Alternative #1.

Paper #11 – Declining Enrollment

The Commission is forwarding both options to the Legislature with a preference for Alternative #2.

Paper #12 – Negative Tertiary Aid

The Commission is forwarding all three options to the Legislature for consideration.

Paper #13 – Timing of School Aids Distribution

The Commission is forwarding both options to the Legislature for consideration.

Paper #14 – School Tax Levy Credit Funding

The Commission recommends Alternative #1.

Paper #15 – Revenue Limit Adjustments

The Commission is forwarding, for the Legislature’s consideration, the creation of revenue limit adjustments for:

  1. energy efficiency measures
  2. lead remediation
  3. school resource officers
  4. school safety expenditures
  5. school nurse costs
  6. above-average transportation costs
  7. mental health

Paper #16 – Per Pupil Adjustment

The Commission recommended Alternative #1.

Paper #17 – Special Education Categorical Aid

The Commission added an Alternative #5 that would increase funding so that the proration rate will equal 30% in 2019-20 and 60% in 2020-21.  The Commission then chose to forward all five options to the Legislature for consideration.

Paper #18 – Bilingual – Bicultural Aid

The Commission recommended Alternative #3a.

Paper #19 – Aid for Low-Income Pupils

The Commission recommended Alternative #1a.

Paper #20 – High Cost Transportation Aid

The Commission chose to forward all three options to the Legislature for consideration.

Paper #21 – Sparsity Aid

The Commission is forwarding all four options to the Legislature with a preference for Alternative #2.

Paper #22 – Gifted and Talented Pupils

The Commission chose to forward all three options to the Legislature for consideration.

Paper #23 – Mental Health

The Commission chose to forward both options to the Legislature with a preference for Alternative #2.

Paper #24 – School District Consolidation

The Commission chose to forward all four options to the Legislature for consideration.

Paper #25 – Early Childhood

The Commission chose to forward all of the options to the Legislature for consideration.

Paper #26 – Incentives for Shared Services

The Commission recommended Alternative #1.

Paper #27 – Summer Learning Loss

The Commission chose to forward both options to the Legislature for consideration.

Paper #28 – Educator Workforce Shortage

The Commission chose to forward both options to the Legislature for consideration.

Finally, the Commission directed LFB staff to write an issue paper on Two-Thirds State Funding of K12 Education Costs.  The Commission recommended adoption of a two-thirds state funding requirement.

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