Wisconsin public schools are facing a crisis, that message delivered by two state legislators in a presentation given in Rhinelander Thursday evening.
In a show of bipartisan concern, Republican State Senator Dale Schultz and Democrat Assemblywoman Mandy Wright are taking their message around the state, in an effort to explain the situation and motivate citizens to challenge their legislators to work together to address what's seen in rural Wisconsin as an unfair school funding system.
The chair of the Assembly Speaker's Task Force on Rural School thinks some sought after changes asked by educators will come out of the effort. The bipartisan Task Force was put together to hear from educators and parents about the challenges facing rural schools.
Representative Rob Swearingen says after touring the state he came away with greater knowledge on the challenges facing rural schools. He says lack of broadband access hurts students, citing Eagle River area schools as an example..
The rural schools taskforce has just two public hearings left before it begins to compile its report. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos put the task force together to help get a handle on the problems faced by rural school districts.
Committee chair Representative Rob Swearingen says last week’s hearing in Antigo was productive.
“The best part was that we actually had time this particular hearing to hear more from the public, taxpaying citizens. So it went very very well – I was pleased at the end of the day.”
The Assembly Speaker's Rural Schools Task Force held its third hearing Tuesday in Madison.
Legislators heard more than three hours of testimony from educational groups and administrators. State Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers spoke about the financial challenges facing rural schools.
"We need to do something about fixing our funding system for all the schools in the state. We need to find ways to allocate resources that take into account the income levels of families, and not just the community's property value."
The Assembly Speaker's Task Force on Rural Schools has had two meetings to date, including one in Rhinelander. The task force has a way for those interested in the issue to follow what is happening.
Task Force Chair Rob Swearingen from Rhinelander said they recently had their second meeting in Elroy, not far from Wisconsin Dells. Swearingen says they heard similar concerns there as the first session in Rhinelander, but some differences as well. He says they've found a way to let the public know what's going on...