Rural schools deserve
The Speaker’s Task Force on Rural Schools issued last week a list of recommendations for helping small schools improve educational quality within the framework of troublesome state revenue limits.
The revenue caps, as they are often called, limit the amount of funding a school district may raise per student from state aid and local property taxes. The harsh limits are the main reason most schools have gone to referendum to exceed the caps.
There is a direct connection between revenue caps
and student enrollment. School districts are allowed a basic levying authority per student, and that amount increases slightly each year to take into account cost of living increases.
We’ve been partnering with rural school administrators for years in the fight to get legislative relief that will help level the playing field for small schools, most of which lack the economies of scale that allow larger districts to maintain swimming pools and much larger curriculum offerings.
One highlight of the most recent task force recommendation is increased funding for transportation aids. Our rural districts have significant geographic areas, putting them at a disadvantage because they must spend a larger portion of their budgets on transportation instead of in the classroom, while also staying within the limits.
Schools here would also be helped by a proposal to adjust district enrollment for revenue limit purposes, allowing them to use the highest enrollment in the last five years instead of a three-year average.
Along those same lines, the task force is recommending weighted enrollment numbers for districts with fewer than 500 students. That means Phelps and Three Lakes would get some sort of breaks from the caps because their adjusted enrollment would be higher.
Lastly, the task force is proposing to exempt one-time technological costs from the revenue limits, giving districts a chance to levy additional funds for computers, netbooks or software without penalty.
We believe these changes would be a step in the right direction for rural schools, and that the state needs to correct the current inequities.
Record marathon event
As the state Department of Tourism announced last week that travelers spent more than $400 million in Vilas and Oneida counties in 2013, events like the Journeys Marathon get credit for boosting tourism during the pre-Memorial Day fringe season.
The 18th annual Journeys Marathon last weekend drew a record 1,077 participants thanks to the work of the Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center, and about 250 community volunteers.
Former chamber executive director Conrad Heeg, who retired last week, should be commended for the work he did to build membership and bring new events here. He will be missed.
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, May 13, 2014 10:56 AM|
|Last Updated on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 10:56 AM|