Final 2015-17 State Budget

Final 2015-17 State Budget

Here’s an overview of the education-related items in the budget sent to Governor Walker. Walker made some minor vetoes, but this outline remains almost entirely intact:

2015-17 STATE BUDGET:  As adopted by Legislature (Education-related Items)


General School Aids and Revenue Limit Per Pupil Adjustment

  • Provide $108 M in 16-17 for general school aids.

Integration Aid/Chapter 220 Program

  • Phase out the Chapter 220 program, but allow K-8 pupils to continue into their related UHS district and allow pupils to participate in the 2015-16 school year.

School Levy Tax Credit

  • Set the credit distribution at $853 M in 2016-17 and thereafter.


Per Pupil Aid

  • Provide $126.8 M in 2016-17 for per pupil aid.
  • Provide an additional $69.3 M in 2016-17 for per pupil aid payments.
  • Effect: Fund $150 per pupil in 15-16 and $250 per pupil in 16-17 on an ongoing basis.

Sparsity Aid

  • Provide $4.2 M annually.

High Cost Transportation Aid

  • Provide $2.5 M annually.

Special Education Transitions Incentive Grants

  • Provide $100,000 beginning in 16-17 in a new appropriation for grants to school districts or privately run charter schools who would receive $1,000 for each pupil with an individualized education program who go on to college, training program or is competitively employed within one year of leaving high school.

High Cost Special Education Aid

  • Provide $5 M in 16-17 for high cost special education aid.


  • Create a digital learning collaborative, competitive block grants to school districts for technology infrastructure, and noncompetitive grants to consortia of three or more school districts for the cost of training teachers on the use of educational technology.
  • Target dollars to rural sparsely populated school districts to help make improvements such as high speed broadband access, a statewide infrastructure to support online assessments, professional learning for teachers and administrators using digital tools, and digital course options.


Private School Choice Program Expansion (Racine & Statewide Program)

  • Remove the cap on the statewide voucher program and begins funding this program and the Racine program comparable to the open enrollment program.
  • Specify that pupils could be counted by school district of residence for general school aids and revenue limit purposes.
  • Specify that school districts could not levy to backfill the aid reduction.
  • Provide that the total number of pupils would could participate would be limited to no more than 1% of the district’s prior year enrollment.
  • Specify that the enrollment limit would increase by 1% in each year beginning in 17-18 until the enrollment limit reaches 10% of the district’s prior year enrollment with no limit going forward.

Private School Choice Program Expansion (Special Needs Vouchers)

  • Create a special needs voucher program, beginning in 16-17, and allow a child with a disability to attend a participating private school of the child’s parent’s choice, if that child has previously been rejected from attending school in a nonresident district under the open enrollment program.
  • Require DPI to pay an amount equal to $12,000 in 16-17 on behalf of each child participating in the program to the private school that the pupil attends.
  • Specify that the pupils participating in the program could be counted by their school district of residence for general aid and revenue limit purposes.

Charter Schools

  • Specify that privately run charter school operators could open additional schools if all of the schools operated by the governing board have received one of the top two ratings on the most recent school accountability reports (applies to future contracts for these schools).
  • Estimate: payment for privately run charter schools would be $8,087 per pupil in 15-16 and $8,195 in 16-17.
  • Allow for additional authorizers of privately run charter schools.
    • UW System, through an appointed Director, could authorize charter schools located in the school districts of Milwaukee and Madison.
    • Additional new authorizers would include the Waukesha County Executive, Gateway Technical College District Board for high schools focused on STEM, College of Menominee Nation and the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College.
    • Newly authorized charter schools would be funded by reducing the resident school district’s state aid by payment amount specified above for each student attending the charter school. The resident school district could not tax to make up for the lost aid but would be able to count the charter school student for general school aids and revenue limits.

Participation in Athletics and Extra-Curricular Activities

  • Require a school board to permit a pupil who resides in the school district to participate in interscholastic athletics or extracurricular activities on the same basis as pupils enrolled in the district, if the pupil is enrolled in a home-based private educational program.

Open Enrollment

  • Estimate: Open enrollment transfer amount would be $6,647 in 15-16 and $6,755 in 16-17.
  • Make changes to the open enrollment program as it related to children with disabilities beginning in 16-17 by deleting the ability of the resident school district to deny the open enrollment application based on undue financial burden and set the per pupil transfer amount at $12,000.


Educational Standards

  • Scrap the Common Core.

School Accountability Report

  • Use a star rating system of 1-5 stars.

High School Graduation Standards

  • Allow school districts to create a process through which a high school pupil could earn credit through demonstrating competency or creating a learning portfolio.
  • Specify that a pupil could earn no more than half of the credits required for high school graduation through this process.

MPS Takeover

  • Give an appointed commissioner control over schools that receive the lowest rating on the most recent school district accountability report.
  • Require the commissioner to select 1-3 schools during the 15-16 school year, no more than 3 in the 16-17 school year and no more than 5 in the 17-18 school year and in each school year thereafter to be transferred to the commissioner’s control in the following school year for operation in the subsequent year.
  • Authorize the commissioner to convert the selected schools to voucher or charter schools.
  • Open the door for substantially similar program for other school districts.


Alternative Assessments

  • Require DPI to request a waiver from the federal Department of Education to allow the state to approve between 3 and 5 assessments from which a school district, privately run charter school and voucher school could choose.
  • Allow school districts to select their own reading readiness assessment for pupils enrolled in 4K-second grade.

Civics Assessment

  • Require high school students in public and voucher schools to pass a civics exam to graduate.

Alternative Teacher Licensure (for grades 6-12)

  • Require DPI to grant an initial teaching license to teach a technical education subject to an individual who scores at least 100 points based on a point system with at least 25 points based on experience in a technical field and at least 25 points based on pedagogical experience, and agrees to complete a curriculum determined by the school board (no bachelor’s degree required).
  • Require DPI to grant an initial teaching license to any individual who was granted a teaching license by another state and completed at least one year of teaching experience in that state provided that the individual received an offer of employment from a school in Wisconsin prior to applying for such a license.


  • Modify the Minority Teacher Loan Program. Open the program up to teachers in both public and private schools in Milwaukee who teach in a high demand area and had a GPA of 3.0 or better.  Make loan forgiveness contingent on receiving a rating of proficient or distinguished in the educator effectiveness system or its equivalent in schools that don’t use the system.
  • Delete teacher education loan program and create a new forgivable loan program for teachers in public and private schools in Milwaukee teaching in a high demand area and had a GPA of 3.0 or better. Make loan forgiveness contingent on receiving a rating of proficient or distinguished in the educator effectiveness system or its equivalent in schools that don’t use the system.


  • Distribute 30% of general aid to technical college districts using the performance-based formula in 2017-18 and beyond. *Governor Walker vetoed this provision.  As a result of the veto, the portion of state funding distributed through the performance funding formula would revert to zero in fiscal year 2017-18.
  • Add another criterion to the current list of criteria on which performance based funding is allocated.  That criterion would allocate funding based on the development and implementation of a policy to award course credit for relevant educational experience or training not obtained through an institution of higher education, including training received during military service.
  • Require that a person serving on the MATC district board representing employers must have at least 2 years of experience managing a business entity, nonprofit organization, credit union, or cooperative association with at least 15 employees, or at least 2 years of experience managing the finances or the hiring of personnel of a business entity, nonprofit organization, credit union, or cooperative association with at least 100 employees.


  • Provide that state and local general employee unions seeking initial recognition to represent a collective bargaining unit would have to receive at least 51% of the votes of all of the general employees in the unit, rather than 51% of the votes cast, to be initially certified.


  • Replace statutory references to “living wage”, including the provision allowing the Department of Workforce Development to determining the living wage, with “minimum wage.”

DPI State Budget Summary