The Final Analysis
Hard numbers on a tough budget for schools.
The impact of Gov. Scott Walker's reforms of school funding and employee benefits is now clear: Budgeted school spending fell 5.4 % between the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years, according to a new analysis by the non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. The average district planned to spend $12,012 per student in the latter year, down from $12,600. At Milwaukee Public Schools, that figure fell 11.4%, to $13,472 from $15,202.
Walker's first biennial budget (he's working on his second right now) cut state aid for K-12 education while also tightening caps on districts' abilities to raise property taxes. Walker said he intended the savings to come from cuts in employee benefits made possible by the Act 10 legislation that stopped collective bargaining on wages and benefits, but some districts countered that they were unable to make up the difference.
WisTax concluded that "much" of the 5.4% drop came from employee benefits. The category of "instructional personnel" (pay and benefits) was the hardest hit, falling an average of 6.8 percent. Instructional support dropped 5.5 percent, and spending on buildings and grounds declined by smaller amounts.
(photo by Adrian Palomo)