Wisconsin Budget-Education

State Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) speaks at a news conference before a Joint Finance Committee meeting Thursday, May 27, 2021 at the Capitol in Madison, Wis. To his right is co-chairman Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam). 

MADISON - There is more money available for public schools in Wisconsin this year than in any other year in the past decade, but school district officials from across the state say they need even more.

School superintendents, teacher unions, advocacy groups, and Democratic lawmakers held a series of news conferences across the state on Monday to say the Republicans who control the state budget need to send more money to local schools.

“We are extremely disappointed that the [Joint Finance Committee] has failed to lead and invest in children and the future workforce in Wisconsin at a time when funding is available and children and families are still recovering from a global pandemic,” Southeastern Wisconsin Schools Alliance director Terri Phillips said Monday.

Phillips is upset because Republican lawmakers on the JFC chose to use Wisconsin’s $4.4 billion surplus to cut taxes as opposed to spending more on schools.

School leaders from Milwaukee to Eau Claire echoed Phillips’ talking points about the need for more money.

“Wisconsin has enough money to meet the needs of every child in every school,” Milwaukee School Board member Megan O’Halloran said at Monday’s news conference in Milwaukee. “So, I beg our legislators to seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

State Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, said Milwaukee Public Schools are set to get nearly $800 million in federal stimulus money alone this year. He said they are in “no position” to complain about a lack of money.

“This amounts to an increase of $11,242 per student, which comes in addition to the $15,844 MPS already spends per-student,” Stroebel said Monday. “Put another way, the federal funds alone amount to 79% of the $1 billion operations budget approved by the MPS School Board for the 2020-21 school year.”

Stroebel said lawmakers added $650 million into this year’s budget for public schools across the state. In all, Wisconsin schools will get $2.6 billion over the next two years. Stroebel said that is at least three times more money going to public schools in the state than at any time over the past decade.