Governor Announces Top WASB Priorities will be Included in Budget Proposal

wasb_logo-hires_printWhen the WASB Legislative Agenda was approved by our Board of Directors last November, it included the following provisions (see below) that our Government Relations Team subsequently advocated for with the Governor’s Office.  Those conversations, and other advocacy efforts, appear to have paid big dividends for public schools. The Governor announced Sunday that he will be proposing significant funding increases for public education that match the WASB’s requests in his state budget proposal that he will unveil Wednesday afternoon (Feb.8).

WASB ask: Provide inflationary “catch-up” adjustments to school district resources with the goal to provide an additional $200 per pupil in “spendable” resources in each year of the biennium.

Governor: Provide a $200 per pupil increase for 2017-18 and another $204 per pupil increase for 2018-19 in per-pupil categorical aid. This amounts to a $509.2 million increase.  This amount is entirely state-funded.  It does not have to be raised locally.

WASB ask: Unmet mental health needs negatively impact student success. The WASB will support coordinated efforts to secure state grant funding to support school site-based mental health programs, supports and services in districts that wish to allow third-party providers to provide such services on-site.

Governor: Provide $3 million as a categorical aid for schools to hire school social workers, as well as:

$2.5 million in grant funding for districts and independent charter schools to offer mental health services;

$1 million to help districts and independent charter schools offer mental health screening; and

$500,000 for the DCF Families and Schools Together Mental Health Initiative in Milwaukee Schools

Also announced by the Governor are plans to provide:

  • $5.6 million for grants to give financial incentives to Milwaukee schools to improve their report card status.
  • $2.8 million for Milwaukee Public Schools to expand summer school programs
  • $2.9 million for an Early College Credit Program, which combines Youth Options and Course Options into one program. ($1,150,300 in 17-18 and $1,753,500 in 18-19)
  • $7.6 million in grants for districts that successfully help students with disabilities find jobs ($2.6M in 17-18 and $3.5M in 18-19)
  • $300,000 for “Act Now!” anti-bullying curriculum

john_ashleyIn response, WASB Executive Director John Ashley released the following statement:

Governor Walker has been saying for months that there would be a significant increase for public schools in his budget proposal and he delivered.  This is great news for Wisconsin’s 422 public school districts and the students they serve.

The Wisconsin Association of School Board’s (WASB) Legislative Agenda called for a $200 per pupil increase in funding by the state. With his announcement, the governor essentially fulfilled this request.  The increased aid announced by the Governor, including for school-based mental health programs, is vitally important for our public schools to continue to prepare every student for college and career and is a smart long-term investment in the state’s economy.

The WASB thanks Governor Walker and pledges to work with him to secure support for these investments, as well as the previously announced rural school initiatives, in the State Legislature as the budget moves forward.

We will keep you informed as more information is available.  The Governor will deliver his budget address on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 4pm.  The full budget proposal should be available shortly afterwards.