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Aid reform ideas improve,

but politics spark caution

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers is floating a new “Fair Funding” school aid plan that shows great progress in how state officials want to tweak the current formula, but giving up levy credits could someday hurt “property rich” districts here.

Among the good items in his proposal are establishing a $3,000 per student state aid minimum regardless of property wealth, a guarantee that every district will qualify for state aid and that no district will have to collect taxes that go elsewhere — the unconstitutional, “negative aid” formula proposed by some tax reform organizations.

Evers also is on the right track for true “fairness” with provisions that give added weight to students from families below the poverty line and increased transportation aid to districts saddled with above-average costs.  Full funding of the sparsity categorical aid program means added help to rural districts that have small student populations and large geographic boundaries.

On the down side, doing away with the levy credits that benefit individual property owners who are paying the largest bills could be setting northern districts up for failure in a volatile political climate where northern Wisconsin has little clout.

While the Evers’ plan gives us confidence in the ability of state bureaucrats to make wise choices in defining fairness, even Evers has little control over near-sighted politicians who vote more on the impact to constituent pocketbooks. History has shown that fighting over a stagnant pot of money can result in the same inequities we are experiencing today, creating winners and losers based on political power that is usually controlled by metropolitan areas.

We share the cautious attitude of area school administrators, for they have witnessed what politics can do to eliminate fairness. There is little guarantee that property-rich, income-poor northern districts will fair well after the initial two-year budget concludes, and that is where levy credits become extremely important.

Warm The Children sees

most demand in 16 years

The demand for warm winter clothing from families with children in need has never been greater in the 16 years this newspaper has coordinated its Warm The Children program, a message we hope people take to heart in this season of giving.

The number of requests flowing thru Social Service Departments is on the rise, so much that we are hoping we don’t have to say no to any family that is truly in need.

We have been blessed with an enormously generous community in past years, so there is still hope that donations in excess of $60,000 will help us reach the program goal for providing vital clothing to at least 570 children in Vilas and northeastern Oneida counties.

With Christmas less than three weeks away, we have not reached the 50% mark toward the donation goal. The volunteer shoppers are working hard and there’s still time, but we need your help.

Behind the editorial ‘we’

 

Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Anthony Drew.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012 4:54 PM
 

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