Joining local elected officials, community leaders, and district faculty, Treasurer Godlewski announced a record-high distribution of over $80,000 for books and technology for school libraries in the Whitewater Unified School District.

Visit to Lakeview Elementary School

WHITEWATER, Wis. — State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski visited Lakeview Elementary School today to present the Whitewater Unified School District’s (WUSD) record-breaking annual distribution of over $80,000 from the Common School Fund. Treasurer Godlewski was joined by Senator Janis Ringhand, Representative Don Vruwink, State Librarian Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, and WUSD and community leaders for the event.

This visit comes after State Treasurer Godlewski, who serves as Chair of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) and oversees the $1.3 billion Common School Fund, announced that the BCPL’s effective management of the fund has resulted in another record-high distribution of $40.6 million for public schools in every corner of the state. Whitewater Unified School District will receive $81,186 to focus on funding books and technology.

“Our kids are our future, and I am proud that the diversified investment strategy of the BCPL has provided this record-breaking distribution to make sure they have what they need to thrive in our public schools. Despite the economic challenges of the past few years, the BCPL has been able to invest wisely to provide these critical resources for our K-12 public school libraries. Whether it’s addressing the digital divide or building literacy skills, it’s great to see how these funds are making a difference,” said State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski.

The Common School Fund is a crucial source of revenue for school libraries, and this distribution provides the sole source of funding for over 90% of public school libraries. Earnings from the BCPL’s investment portfolio are distributed annually to every public school district in Wisconsin to enhance students’ educational experience and to help them gain access to books and technology, which are key to their success.

“Ensuring our students have access to the books and technology they need is essential to helping them reach their full academic potential,” said Assistant State Superintendent for the Division for Libraries and Technology and State Librarian Tessa Michaelson Schmidt. “The Department of Public Instruction is grateful for the BCPL’s wise stewardship of the Common School Fund, which provides these essential dollars to public school libraries across Wisconsin.”

“Whitewater Unified School District is excited for the opportunities that this $81,186 in literacy-focused funding from the Common School Fund and State Treasurer Godlewski will bring. This funding will support and cultivate students’ love of reading, and support increasing the use of technology in our District’s libraries. New digital platforms along with multimodal learning are daily occurrences in our libraries engaging our wide variety of learners. Our community is ever-changing and it is our role as educators to meet those changes head-on and provide for our families. The Common School Funds provided by the State of Wisconsin help us provide these new and improved opportunities for all of our students,” said Whitewater Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Caroline Pate-Hefty.

Background

The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL), chaired by State Treasurer Godlewski, oversees $1.3 billion in state trust funds. This includes the Common School Fund, which makes annual distributions that fund books and technology for every school district in the state. As part of her role as board chair, the State Treasurer has prioritized Wisconsin investments and has integrated Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations into the investment strategy. One of her first actions as board chair was to roll back a climate change gag rule which prevented staff from discussing climate change and how it impacted investments.

In today’s low-interest-rate environment and with the uncertainty of the financial market, this level of distribution would not be possible if the Trust Fund remained invested solely in loans and bonds, as required under statute from 1848 through 2015. The updated investment strategy has led to the diversification of the Common School Fund that added millions to future distributions and will continue to pay dividends to Wisconsin schoolchildren for generations to come. In the last biennium, the BCPL has made $570 million in new portfolio investments, which includes $165 million for financing essential economic development, infrastructure, and other community projects and purchases in Wisconsin.

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