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School districts plead for more state aid


UNDATED (WSAU)  Public school officials say they’ve squeezed out as much savings as they possibly can – and they need more state aid. Governor Scott Walker’s decision to freeze public school aid, while spending more on private school vouchers, was a major topic yesterday at the Joint Finance Committee’s first public hearing on the new state budget. Hundreds of people attended the all-day hearing, held in the Milwaukee suburb of Greendale.

Kettle Moraine Superintendent Patricia Deklotz said her district took full advantage of the 2011 law that allowed schools to cut employee benefits. But now, she says Walker’s plan to expand charter-and-voucher schools without local school board input would be damaging to districts like Kettle Moraine. Deklotz said quote, “The proposed budget feels like a sledge-hammer when what we need is a scalpel.” She asked lawmakers to approve a G-O-P alternative for a small property tax increase to give an extra $150 per student in state aid over the next two years.

Officials of voucher schools praised the original Walker plan. Chuck Moore, a board member for the Choice Schools Association, said the state should invest in all children and quote, “not value some less than others, because parents have exercised their constitutional right to choose.”

The finance panel also heard criticisms of Walker’s budget plans to reform Medicaid, and end local residency requirements for public employees.

The finance committee will hold three more budget hearings on Monday in Green Bay, Wednesday in Lake Delton, and April 18th in Baldwin.