February 21, 2017Client Alert

A Closer Look at the Governor’s Budget: K-12 Education Funding and Policy

The budget bill proposes a $649 million spending increase for K-12 education, as well as a handful of other policy changes related to public schools, private schools that participate in the choice voucher program, and charter schools. This amount includes an additional $30 million over the biennium, targeted to rural schools. If approved by the legislature, the total state funding for K-12 education proposed by the governor would be the most in state history. Interestingly, this level of funding meets the funding request submitted to the governor by the Department of Public Instruction. It is also interesting to note that, unlike previous budgets, the governor did not include any major policy changes to enhance the school choice program, beyond funding increases.

Other proposed changes relating to K-12 education include:

  • Creation of an Early College Credit Program to provide more access to college credits for students before leaving high school. The bill proposes $2.9 million in funding to help offset the costs of this program for students, school districts, and colleges
  • Broadband expansion through the Technology for Educational Achievement Program
  • Creation and funding of three new programs to help schools address student mental health issues
  • $1.4 million in funding for grants to Milwaukee Public Schools to implement summer school programs
  • Creation of a competitive grant program for public, choice, and charter schools in Milwaukee, based on performance
  • $7.6 million in additional funding to help students with disabilities obtain workplace skills and jobs
  • Shift to a perpetual teaching license and eliminate 10 positions in the Department of Public Instruction associated with administering the current teacher licensing program
  • Allow a faculty member in the UW System, the technical college system, or any private, nonprofit member of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities to teach at a public high school without a teaching license if the faculty member is in good standing and possesses a bachelor's degree
  • Creation of an annual sales tax holiday for school supplies
  • Creation of a K-8 bullying prevention grant program
  • Several provisions designed to provide school districts more flexibility in their operations and contracting
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