Looking To Week Ahead, School Funding Will Be Major Debate For Budget Committee


The Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to debate school funding and an expansion of the private school voucher program this week.

School funding is a major piece of any budget, but it’s especially big this year because of what Governor Scott Walker’s budget would do for private school vouchers and what it would not do for public school funding. On vouchers, the governor wants to expand them nine new districts that performed poorly on a brand new school report card system.

“I think for us, it’s a realistic way to give alternatives to families where their students are headed to schools that fail to meet expectations.”

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But during a briefing before the legislature’s budget committee, State Superintendent Tony Evers said those report cards aren’t ready for prime time, and Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) seemed to agree.

“This report card needs to be used as a flashlight, not as a hammer. And one of the things that concerns me is we’re starting to use it as a hammer right out of the get-go.”

Whether vouchers expand using those report cards, using some other metric or whether they expand at all could be answered Wednesday in the legislature’s budget committee – assuming lawmakers stick to their schedule.

The committee is also likely to approve some increase in the amount the budget would spend per pupil on public school students. The governor’s original budget kept that funding flat, but Walker has since said he supports a funding increase after new revenue estimates projected more money for state government and lawmakers agreed to cut state funding to the University of Wisconsin.