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State reps get earful

District concerned over budget proposal

March 26, 2013

Menomonee Falls - Though Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal includes additional funds allocated to public education, none of those funds will actually come to the Menomonee Falls School District, which is facing a $2.4 million budget cut in the 2013-14 school year.

On Friday, administration and School Board members met with state legislators Alberta Darling, Don Pridemore and Dan Knodl talking them through the impact the budget proposal has on Falls.

The district is facing a zero dollar increase in per pupil allocation with revenue limits that are still lower than they were in 2007-08 and cuts next year are inevitable. Officials asked legislators that revenue limits be tied to the Consumer Price Index so it paces with inflation, said Business Director Jeff Gross,

Menomonee Falls is in a unique situation where it has high property wealth and there is a "disproportionate impact that the state funding formula has on our community taxpayers," because some funds go toward educational opportunities across the state, Superintendent Patricia Greco said during the School Board meeting on Monday.

Greco said they also addressed the negative impact support for choice, voucher and independent charter schools will have on Menomonee Falls.

"The intent behind vouchers and independent charters was to provide access for students that are going to failing schools and those are going to be designated schools called choice schools in areas like Racine, Kenosha, Milwaukee, possibly Green Bay: however, right now those schools do not have to meet the same heavy criteria they are putting on us," School Board member Faith Vanderhorst said.

She said charter schools are not required to provide curriculum such as art and music. Menomonee Falls is asking that to be changed so those schools have to be equally accountable.

"We understand why they think they need to do this but as it goes forward, and we know it will go forward, we ask that you become active and ask that those schools have to become as accountable as we are," Vanderhorst said.

Greco said Menomonee Falls is left funding some of these voucher schools because it is a property rich district where local tax dollars are used to fund initiatives in other communities.

"There may be more money out there for public schools, but it's not coming here," School Board Member Scott Ternes said. "A disproportionate amount of our tax dollars are going into programs that are not monitored and measured in the same way."

School Board members urge the public to educate themselves on these issues. The full letter that the district sent to the governor's office and legislators can be viewed at sdmf.k12.wi.us.

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