Shankland says rural schools are at a ‘breaking point’

shankland_news_conferenceOver the last five years, rural schools lost general aid at more than three times the rate of non-rural schools, and nearly a quarter of the rural districts saw general state aid decrease by over 50%, Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) said Thursday at a news conference calling for greater support for rural schools.

“Our rural districts are at a breaking point,” Shankland said in a Facebook post reflecting the news conference message. “They’ve pinched all the pennies they can. Rural school districts cannot continue to rely on band-aid programs that come and go with each state budget as they figure out how they’re going to keep their doors open for the children of their community. It’s time to commit to sustainable funding for our public schools and ensure our children have the best opportunities to succeed in life.

“There is no denying that our state’s rural school districts face significant challenges – from declining enrollment to rising poverty rates to teacher shortages and high costs of transportation,” Shankland said. “What isn’t helping our rural communities is the fact that Republicans have had over five years to invest at a reasonable level in rural schools and improve the state’s school funding formula so it will work for our rural communities. Instead, we’ve seen Republican legislators massively expand the private voucher program, taking hundreds of millions of tax dollars away from our public schools over the next decade.”

Shankland said that in her district, the Rosholt School District has seen a 30% reduction in general aid.

“This is heartbreaking and completely unsustainable,” she said. “Our students deserve better than this.”

Shankland, who was joined by Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), said Democrats will continue to call for DPI’s Fair Funding Formula “which would restructure the school funding formula and ensure every child has equal access to the best possible education.”

“Rural school districts cannot continue to rely on band-aid programs that come and go with each state budget as they figure out how they’re going to keep their doors open for the children of their community. It’s time to commit to sustainable funding for our public schools and ensure our children have the best opportunities to succeed in life.”

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Democrats say GOP has let down rural schools

Madison – Republicans who control the state Assembly haven’t done enough to address funding cuts, high poverty and teacher shortages in Wisconsin’s rural schools, state Democratic leaders charged Thursday. With about two months before Election Day, the news conference was a response of sorts to the Republicans’ one Wednesday, during which the GOP unveiled their priorities for 2017, including finding “solutions for problems facing students in rural school districts.”