The Green Bay School District sent a "scare the crap out of you" email to district residents Friday, hoping to pack Monday's Board meeting with voucher opponents. I plan to hit this hard on the air Monday, urging voucher supporters to attend as well. But I urge voucher supporters in the Green Bay area to share this with as many people possible. Please share it with those you know will be willing to attend and support vouchers Monday night:
March 15, 2013
The Board of Education would like to hear from you regarding the governor’s proposed 2013-15 budget.
As the leaders of the Green Bay Area Public Schools, we want you to be aware of the devastating effects Governor Scott Walker’s 2013-15 budget will have on our excellent school system. The budget expands vouchers to our district and yet gives us a 0% increase in spending authority. This means there will be no additional resources for public school students but a 10-24% increase to the voucher program.
What does expanding the Milwaukee/Racine voucher program to Green Bay mean for Green Bay? The voucher formula decreases funding for public school students and increases property taxes. If 200 students choose vouchers to attend private schools, it will cost Green Bay Area taxpayers an extra $1.2 million in the first year and, in addition, will decrease the funds available for each student choosing to stay in our district. As the governor’s voucher plan spreads and grows, property taxes will continue to increase. Last year, Milwaukee taxpayers paid an extra $55 million in property taxes due to the voucher program.
The governor bases his recommendation for vouchers on the new state report cards. He uses only one year of data to declare schools as “failing.” The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has called the first year of the school report cards a “pilot year,” and because the report cards are new, the grading calculations need to be further refined. Legislators of both parties also have said the one-year-old report cards should not be used to draw long-term conclusions about the performance of schools.
Because of the serious negative impact of vouchers on our community, legislators from both parties have asked that the expansion of vouchers be considered as separate legislation. They join us in recognizing that parents and other taxpayers are owed the opportunity to weigh in on a proposal that would harm public schools and neighborhoods, and increase property taxes.
Our second concern is the 0% increase in public school funding, alongside a 10-24% increase in funding for the voucher program. Legislators from both parties were asking for a $200 per student increase, but public schools instead received a zero percent increase, which will create a $5 million to $6 million budget deficit in our district. Underfunding public education makes it difficult for us, and other districts across Wisconsin, to keep our quality programs.
We are asking legislators to give public schools a funding increase that would allow us to continue to provide students with the quality education they deserve.
In conclusion, we ask you to voice your concerns to us, either at our Board meeting on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. at the District Office Building, 200 S. Broadway, or through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, we ask that you join with us in fighting for our strong public school system and against the two devastating proposals in Governor Scott Walker’s 2013-15 budget. You can do this by contacting your Assembly representative, state senator and the governor at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/Pages/waml.aspx or toll-free at 1-800-362-9472. You can also talk with your friends, family members, and neighbors. With your help, we can keep our public schools strong, provide a 21st century education for all our students, and create the community leaders of tomorrow.
Brenda Warren, President Michelle S. Langenfeld, Ed.D.
Board of Education Superintendent of Schools and Learning
Katie Maloney, Vice-President Mike Blecha, Legislative Liaison
Christopher Wagner, Treasurer Andrew Becker, Trustee
Celestine Jeffreys, Clerk Mary Frantz, Trustee