Release: Wisconsin Public Education Advocates and Parents Welcome DPI Budget Proposal

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Wisconsin Public Education Advocates and Parents Welcome DPI Budget Proposal

Parents and advocates across Wisconsin applauded the Department of Public Instruction’s education proposal for the 2023-25 state budget on Thursday, which provided details on the preK-12 budget priorities announced by State Superintendent Jill Underly and Governor Tony Evers earlier this month.

This recovery budget is exactly what students need and educators and families have been asking for. There’s absolutely no excuse to continue to refuse to provide for the needs of students with disabilities or student mental health concerns, said Heather DuBois Bourenane, executive director of the Wisconsin Public Education Network. After enduring a global pandemic and years of defunding—with no increases to school spending limits in six of the last eight years—this budget provides funds that actually get into classrooms so kids have a chance to get ahead. This proposal provides essential, affordable, and common sense solutions at a time of serious back-to-school uncertainty in Wisconsin. 

Additional state funding for special education would put Wisconsin on track to finally end its shameful funding discrimination for students with disabilities in public schools,said Dr. Julie Underwood, president of the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools. Getting public school students to the 90% level of special education funding (which is the rate of state spending currently provided to private schools—while public schools must make do with just under 30%) would be a huge step toward the fairness our kids need to thrive.

Anna Stevens, a parent and secretary of the Madtown Mommas and Disability Advocates, said: Increased per-pupil aid and 90% [special education] reimbursement would allow schools to support ALL students as whole people, fostering their ability to thrive. It would make it so my child (and others) with a disability was able to safely attend school, by supporting districts’ abilities to ensure enough aids and teachers to meet his legally required needs.

Kate Ullman, a parent in Ashland, said: In northern Wisconsin we are facing a major teacher shortage that puts our schools in jeopardy. . . .Increased state funding and higher revenue limits would be a lifesaver in helping rural schools attract and retain teachers, ensuring that every student has a qualified and fairly compensated teacher in their classroom.

Public education advocates have long argued that the state should reimburse at least 90% of special education costs in public schools, which would move toward parity between public and private school funding. This budget would finally take steps to address this special education funding discrepancy. It would also deliver long-overdue revenue limit increases, allowing local districts to access spendable dollars from the state that can actually reach kids and classrooms.

Students have returned to school eager to learn, but are faced with many challenges. Wisconsin has the money to help children and provide them with an opportunity to thrive. This education proposal is a common sense approach to meeting their needs.


About the author: Christian Phelps

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