Wednesday, November 16, 2016

DPI Releases Second Half of Budget Request

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released the second half of its 2017-19 state budget request Tuesday. This request will be used by the Department of Administration and the Governor’s office to craft the 2017-19 state budget bill, which will be introduced in February. Many of the DPI funding items related to school library programs were included in the first half of DPI’s request, which was released in September. You can read our update on that portion of the request here.

DPI’s proposal would increase school funding by $707 million over the two-year budget (a 2.7% increase in the first year and another 5.4% in the second).

The budget focuses on four key areas:

  1. Funding and Finance Reform
  2. School-based mental health supports
  3. Investing in Rural Schools
  4. Summer learning and other innovative approaches

DPI’s full 2017-19 state budget request can be viewed here and State Superintendent Tony Evers’ statement on the budget request here.

The following is a summary of items contained in the second half of DPI’s request:

School Library Aids (CSF) Re-Estimate

Since DPI submitted their first budget request in September, the projected state aid for school libraries (Common School Fund payments) have decreased. DPI is lowering their original estimates by $3 million in the first year of the biennium and by $1 million in the second year of the biennium. The updated estimates are  $35 million in Fiscal Year 2018 and $37 million in Fiscal Year 2019.

School Funding and Finance Reform

DPI’s budget request includes a school finance reform proposal called Fair Funding for our Future, which modifies the current school funding formula to provide minimum aid to school districts across the state ($3,000 per student), adds a hold harmless provision so that no school would lose money based on the funding formula changes,  incorporates a poverty factor into the equalization aid formula that takes into account the number of students in a district receiving Free or Reduced Price Lunch, and makes other technical changes to the formula.  The request also increases the per pupil revenue limit adjustment to $200 per full-time equivalent (FTE) pupils in 2018 and $204 per FTE in 2019, and updates state statute to increase that figure by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) each year, beginning in 2020. In 1996, the state established a per pupil “low-revenue” ceiling amount that allows districts to increase their per pupil revenues up to a state-determined figure per pupil without having to go to referenda. DPI is proposing to increase the current low-revenue ceiling from $9,100 in 2017, to $9,500 in 2018 and $9,900 in 2019. DPI is also proposing changes to the way summer school students are counted for revenue limit purposes.

Per Pupil Aid Weighting

DPI requests an additional $37.5 million to maintain per pupil aid of $250 and create a new weighting factor that would provide schools with additional aid for students in certain demographics (students in foster care, English language learners and economically disadvantaged students). For each student in one of these demographics, schools would get the $250 per pupil aid plus $50 for each weighting factor.

Investing in Rural Schools/ Rural Teacher Retention 

DPI proposes a new annual $5.5 million Rural Schools Teacher Retention Grant. Districts eligible for sparsity aid could apply for the grants, which are meant to help with teacher retention issues and could be used for things like tuition reimbursement, professional development or increased compensation. DPI estimates that eligible districts would receive a minimum grant of $5,000 (with payments of about $750 per teacher). 

DPI an increase of $7.7 million to fully fund sparsity aid and expand sparsity aid eligibility to additional districts. Under DPI’s proposal to create a second tier of sparsity aid, school districts  that have between 746 and 1, 000 students (averaging out to not more than 10 students per square mile) could get sparsity aid payments of $100 per student. 

DPI also requests increased transportation aid for school districts that transport students 12 or more miles and increased transportation reimbursement rates for summer school and high-cost transportation.  

Peer Review and Mentoring Grant Program

DPI does not request increased funding for this grant program,  which provides peer review and mentoring support to new teachers, but does request a statutory change to expand eligibility to all school districts. They also request increasing the allowable grant amount from $25,000 to $100,000.  Priority would be given to schools in the Teacher Equitable Access Program.

Allowing MPS to Start Classes before September 1

DPI is requesting a change to state statute that would allow Milwaukee Public Schools to begin classes before September 1 in an effort to prevent the “summer slide.”

School Based Mental Health

DPI proposes three school-based mental health initiatives. The first would create a $3 million annual appropriation used to partially reimburse schools that increase spending on social worker positions (76% of Wisconsin school districts currently do not have a social worker). The second is a $2.5 million annual grant program that would help fund school mental health efforts done in collaboration with community health care providers. The third is increased funding for DPI to scale up mental health training for schools around the state.

Special Education/ Transition Funding

DPI requests an $88 million increase for special education funding and a $4.2 million increase for high-cost special education funding as well as a statutory change that would reimburse 100% of eligible costs for  districts that exceed the $30,000 per pupil threshold. As part of its request to increase high-cost special education funding, DPI requests that current law “special education supplemental aid” funding be folded into the high-cost special education program.

The budget request also provides funding to support youth with disabilities that are transitioning into college or careers.  DPI requests an additional $6.3 million to fully fund the Transition Incentive Grant Program which provides schools districts with $1,000 for each student with a disability graduating college and career ready based on the Wisconsin Post-School Outcomes (WiPSO) survey.  They also propose a new program called the Special Education Transition Readiness Investment Grant which would make $1.5 million available to school districts to create new competitive work opportunities for students with disabilities.

Bilingual/Bicultural Aid

DPI requests an additional $9.1 million to increase the reimbursement rate paid to school districts that are required to offer bilingual/bicultural programs to 12%.  

They also request $4.3 million to create a Supplemental Bilingual-Bicultural Aid program that would provide $100 per English learner in any district that is not served by a bilingual/bicultural aid program.  

In addition, they request funding to create two new grant programs. The first would create a $4.4 million grant program that provides targeted funding to districts with English learners. Districts, including those eligible for the two Bilingual-Bicultural Aid programs discussed above, would receive $100 per English learner that is assessed at proficiency level 1, 2 or 3.  The second is a $750,000 ESL and Bilingual Capacity Building Grant to help schools increase the number of existing teachers and paraprofessionals that are certified English as a Second Language (ESL) and bilingual education teachers.

Dual Language Planning and Start Up grant

DPI requests $750,000 to create a  Dual Language Planning and Start Up Grant that would provide start-up funding for school districts that want to create a dual language immersion program.

Gifted/Talented Programs

DPI requests $1.5 million in additional funding for gifted and talented programs. They hope the increased funding will help serve students that have been historically underrepresented in gifted and talented programs (such as economically disadvantaged students, students of color, students with physical or learning disabilities, and English Learners). The request also expands eligibility to all school districts in the state.

Tribal Language Revitalization Grants

DPI Requests $562,200 to create a new Young Learners Tribal Language Revitalization initiative. This initiative will begin the exposure and development of the tribal heritage languages starting with Head Start and 4K and continue implementation of the program in Kindergarten through eighth grade in future biennia.

School Breakfast Program

DPI requests additional funding in order to fully fund the $0.15 reimbursement rate for each breakfast served. DPI also proposes expanding eligibility for the school breakfast reimbursement program to several new entities: independent charter schools, the Wisconsin Educational Services Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and residential care centers for children and youth (RCCs).

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