Green Bay School Board Position on Governor’s 2013-15 Budget and Vouchers

Dear community members and neighbors,

As the leaders of the Green Bay Area Public Schools, we want you to be aware of the devastating effects Governor Scott Walker’s 2013-15 budget will have on our excellent school system. The budget expands vouchers to our district and yet gives a 0% increase in spending authority. This means there will be no additional resources for public school students but a 10-24% increase to the voucher program.

What does expanding the Milwaukee/Racine voucher program to Green Bay mean for Green Bay? The voucher formula decreases funding for public school students and increases property taxes. If 200 students choose vouchers to attend private schools, it will cost Green Bay Area taxpayers an extra $1.2 million in the first year and, in addition, will decrease the funds available for each student choosing to stay in our district. As the governor’s voucher plan spreads and grows, property taxes will continue to increase. Last year, Milwaukee taxpayers paid an extra $55 million dollars in property taxes due to the voucher program.

The governor bases his recommendation for vouchers on the new state report cards. He uses only one year of data to declare schools as “failing.” The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has called the first year of the school report cards a “pilot year,” and because the report cards are new, the grading calculations need to be further refined. Legislators of both parties have also said the one-year-old report cards should not be used to draw long-term conclusions about the performance of schools.

We are asking legislators to take the voucher proposal out of the budget so it can be considered as separate legislation. Parents and other taxpayers are owed the opportunity to weigh in on a proposal that would harm public schools and neighborhoods, and increase property taxes.

Our second concern is the 0% increase in public school funding, alongside a 10-24% increase in funding for the voucher program. Legislators from both parties were asking for a $200 per student increase, but public schools instead received a zero percent increase, which will create a $5 million to $6 million budget deficit in our district. Underfunding public education makes it difficult for us, and other districts across Wisconsin, to keep our quality programs.

We are asking legislators to give public schools a funding increase that would allow us to continue to provide students with the quality education they deserve.

As the Board of Education for the Green Bay Area Public Schools, we take very seriously our responsibility to educate each and every child who walks through our front doors. For this reason, we strongly oppose the imposition of vouchers in our community and we call upon our legislators and governor to provide fair and adequate funding to our schools.

In conclusion, we ask you to join with us in fighting for our strong public school system and against the two devastating proposals in Governor Scott Walker’s 2013-15 budget. You can do this by contacting your assembly representative, state senator and the governor at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/Pages/waml.aspx or toll-free at 1-800-362-9472. You can also talk with your friends, family members, and neighbors. With your help we can keep our public schools strong, provide a 21st century education for all our students, and create the community leaders of tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Brenda Warren, President
Board of Education

Michelle S. Langenfeld, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools and Learning

Katie Maloney, Vice-President; Mike Blecha, Legislative Liaison
Christopher Wagner, Treasurer; Andrew Becker, Trustee
Celestine Jeffreys, Clerk; Mary Frantz, Trustee

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