Wisconsin Considers Funding Changes for Rural Schools

Last Updated: May 27, 2009

This article appeared in the May 2009 Rural Policy Matters.

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Two Wisconsin state legislators have introduced a bill intended to help rural districts facing serious financial challenges. The Rural Schools Initiative would cushion the financial impact for districts with rapidly declining enrollment by giving districts two additional years over which to average their student count. That count is the basis on which much of the state’s share of school funding is calculated.
The bill would also increase per-pupil transportation funding for districts transporting students 12 miles or more to school. 
The proposals were made before the Education Committee, which has also heard from the School Finance Network, a statewide coalition working on a broad initiative to rewrite the funding formula. (See “Wisconsin Network Proposes New Funding Plan” in the March 2009 edition of RPM.) 
Despite the difficult budget year, Wisconsin State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, (D-Alma) is positive about the Initiative’s potential. "A lot of rural schools are depending on me to be their advocate," she said. "At this point I am guardedly optimistic."
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