Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Detail from the Budget in Brief(s)

To create sustainable financial support for public education, the Governor proposes the following: 

 Reduce general equalization aid by $749.4 million over the biennium to help address the state budget deficit.  Annually, the decreases compared to base will be $390.5 million (8.4 percent) in fiscal year 2011-12 and $358.9 million in fiscal year 2012-13 (7.7 percent).  To prevent major aid reductions to individual school districts, the special adjustment aid hold harmless provision is increased to guarantee school districts 90 percent of their prior year general aid amounts for fiscal year 2011-12.
Current law guarantees 85 percent.

Eliminate the following GPR-funded categorical aid programs, totaling $29.9 million annually:
advanced placement; alternative education; alcohol and other drug abuse prevention and intervention; children-at-risk; English for Southeast Asian children; improving pupil academic achievement; nursing services; preschool to grade 5 programs; science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs; and supplemental aid.  With the exception of the grants for improving academic achievement program, which provides aid to the Milwaukee Public Schools district, the remaining programs were all recommended for repeal and repurposing by the Department of Public Instruction in its budget request.  The department recognized that these programs are either too small to provide meaningful resources to school districts or have unproven results.  While the department proposes to reallocate these funds to create a new competitive grant program to reduce dropouts and improve graduation rates, the goal is not backed up with a proven plan to achieve it.  The Governor proposes, instead, to use a portion of the savings to create new initiatives to improve student reading levels and create a state-of-the-art student information system, and the remainder to help address the state budget deficit.

To protect property taxpayers from significant levy increases, the Governor recommends: 
Reducing school district revenue limits per pupil in fiscal years 2011-12 and 2012-13 by 5.5 percent below the amounts authorized in fiscal year 2010-11.  While revenue limits will decrease, school boards will have more tools to manage these decreases through increasing school district employees' share of fringe benefit costs and the repeal of some state mandates.

Repealing state mandates that prevent school districts from:

  • scheduling fewer than 180 school days annually even though they meet current hours of instruction requirements; 
  • providing reading instruction without employing reading specialists; 
  • employing school nurses who are licensed, but may not have a bachelor's degree; 
  • addressing indoor environmental quality without adopting a plan approved by the Department of Public Instruction; 
  • providing staff training on administering prescription and nonprescription drugs to students only if the training is approved by the Department of Public Instruction; and 
  • exceeding 200 teaching service days for Milwaukee Public Schools. 

Repealing revenue limit exemptions for school nurses, pupil transportation costs, school safety equipment and security officers.  These revenue limit exemptions were signed into law as part of the 2009-11 biennial budget, but were not scheduled to go into effect until fiscal year 2011-12.  Repealing these exemptions will protect property taxpayers in future years without impacting current school district spending for these activities.