Wisconsin Democrats criticize rural schools report

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

State Superintendent Tony Evers issued a statement today on the Speaker’s Task Force on Rural Schools reports from Chair Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) and Vice-Chair Rep. Fred Clark (D-Baraboo), commending the bipartisan support for advancing rural education.

“I am glad to see bipartisan support for reinvestments and commitments to advance rural schools. Our rural schools are the centers of their communities and need our support. I appreciate the task force collaborating with and listening to members of the State Superintendent’s Rural Advisory Council. I have been working with my Rural Advisory Council for many years to promote the specific needs of rural schools and develop solid proposals to support them. Many of the bipartisan proposals build on or adopt these proposals, such as investments in:

• sparsity aid,
• bilingual/bicultural aid,
• transportation aid,
• targeted educator student loan forgiveness, and
• revisions to the school aid formula.

“I thank the members of the Speaker’s Task Force on Rural Schools for their time and response to concerns they heard from rural schools around our state. I will review and consider these proposals as I advance my biennial budget request in the fall.”

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Democrats on a bipartisan committee studying rural schools say the final report from eight months of work falls short of fixing substantial problems.

Members of the Rural Schools Task Force said at a news conference Wednesday that the final report doesn't address declining enrollment and flaws in the state funding formula.

The committee's four Democrats were flanked by superintendents from rural school districts in Benton, Alma and Rhinelander.

The superintendents say they are grateful for the task force's work and legislation is needed next session to address the problems highlighted in the report.

The report released by Republican Rep. Rob Swearingen, of Rhinelander, calls for more money for schools with high transportation costs, funding for broadband Internet access and forgiving rural teachers' student loans.

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