On September 8, 2014, the Forward Institute released a study that examines the Wisconsin school funding formula and finds that it does not fulfill its mandate to provide a sound, basic education as guaranteed by the state constitution and state statute.
The Association for Equity in Funding (AEF), a group of Wisconsin school districts, commissioned the study, which is entitled "Segregation
of Opportunity: Education Funding."
The goal of the study was to answer the question, "Is the education tax
and funding system in Wisconsin fulfilling its constitutionally and statutorily
mandated function to provide a sound, basic education for all students regardless
of need, without an excessive reliance on local property taxes?"
Based on longitudinal data analyses for 2004--2011, the study reached the following conclusions:
- The school funding system is depriving many Wisconsin children and communities of the resources they need to provide equal educational opportunities; these same communities are being forced to increase property taxes in an effort to provide basic resources to their schools.
- Because of the state's unfair funding formula, school districts with more high needs students (children living in poverty, students with disabilities, and English language learners) are less able to provide adequate educational opportunities to all of the children enrolled in the district.
- The inequality of opportunity between different types of school districts with different student populations and community wealth has worsened over time, leaving more children and communities behind.
- High poverty schools have significantly lower revenues, a situation that deprives them of critical funding for educational resources. This negative effect is getting worse over time.
"Ultimately the study reveals that Wisconsin's funding formula no longer adequately funds all school districts," stated AEF President John Gaier. "This has resulted in widening gaps of opportunities for students and communities. Low property value communities are shouldering a greater burden for funding local school districts. A better funding system is needed for Wisconsin's students to have the opportunities needed for them to be college and career ready, regardless of the community in which they live."