Funding For Educational Cooperative Associations Gets Attention At Budget Hearing

Proposed Budget Allows School Districts To Opt Out Of CESA Membership


The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee heard testimony in Rice Lake on Monday against Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to let school districts drop out of regional cooperative associations aimed at sharing resources.

Cooperative Educational Service Agencies, or CESAs, have been around in Wisconsin since the late 1960s. They’re billed as a regional link between school districts and the state.

However, language in Walker’s proposed budget would let school districts opt out of mandatory CESA membership.

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Jerry Walters is the Administrator for CESA 11 in northwestern Wisconsin. He said dismantling CESAs could put school district funding at risk.

“Federal grants, federal funds, entitlement dollars come through CESAs for our districts. If not being a member of a district … does that not allow them access to these funds? That isn’t part of the current language,” said Walters.

Walters also testified that without CESAs, districts would have to deal directly with the Department of Public Instruction for professional development, something he said the state may not have the staff for.