DPI budget recommendation calls for indexing revenue limits to inflation

Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

State schools Superintendent Tony Evers is calling for indexing the revenue limit to inflation and making changes to the way 4-year-old kindergarten is covered as part of his agency’s budget recommendations.

The proposals in the Department of Public Instruction’s budget are elements of the Dem guv candidate’s plan to overhaul school finance that he was to announce today in Appleton, according to an agency spokesman who briefed WisPolitics.com on the plan.

Evers is also calling for more than $60 million over the next biennium for mental health services, and a $600 million boost for special education funding.

Evers as part of his “Fair Funding” plan today will propose indexing revenue limits to inflation. The limit caps how much schools can spend through a combination of state aid and property taxes.

His plan also will call for guaranteeing that the state fund two-thirds of each student’s education. The budget Gov. Scott Walker introduced in February called for funding 64.6 percent of public school costs after the state’s commitment dropped below 62 percent in 2012.

Evers also will call for:

*changes to the way pre-K students’ attendance is counted for the purpose of distributing state aid. Currently, state law requires that students enrolled in full-day programs be counted as one-half pupil, rather than one pupil. Under Evers’ plan, students in those full-time programs would be counted as one in calculating state aid.

*a state component to match the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grant program. Under the current framework, the federal Department of Education provides grants to DPI for administering summer and after-school programs that often serve students from low-income families. President Trump last year moved to eliminate the program under his budget proposal. Under the state program, DPI would be able to fund CLCs the agency would otherwise have to deny if there’s a shortage of federal dollars, per a spokesman.