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Nicolet School Board members to sign letter critical of Gov. Walker's proposed budget

March 20, 2013

Glendale - Four of five Nicolet School Board members take issue with Gov. Scott Walker's 2013-15 budget proposal, and will sign a critical letter to Walker and members of the state Education and Joint Finance committees.

The budget proposal includes a freeze on district revenue limits, increases in state aid to public schools, and an expansion of the voucher program which allows students to attend private schools in lieu of underperforming public schools.

The letter says Nicolet, like many districts, has used the "tools" provided by Act 10 to increase employee contributions to the state retirement system, reduced health care and post employment benefits to cut costs. Yet, the letter says, the Act 10 tools "will not offset future required reductions resulting from the proposed freeze on revenue limits."

Specifically, the letter urges Walker and state legislators to consider three changes: tying the state-mandated revenue limit to the consumer price index; making sure any funding to choice, voucher, or private schools doesn't affect public school funding, and holding all schools supported with tax dollars to the same accountability standards; and letting individual school boards the power to set their own school start dates, since in Nicolet's case a Sept. 1 start date may not be soon enough to adequately prepare students for May advanced placement tests.

"We all should realize that we are a public school, and we should support public schools across the state," board member Morton Grodsky said. "If we as a public school don't support public education, who will?"

Board member Ellen Redeker, on the other hand, took issue with the letter and opted not to sign it.

"I don't think this is the place for the School Board to pass some sort of political action, which this letter is," Redeker said, later adding, "Until you step into an inner-city school that's publicly funded, that you'd never send your kid to, I think we're doing a disservice to those failing schools."

She said she would prefer the board members send signed copies of the letter individually. Eventually, the board decided to sign the letter as a group alongside Superintendent Rick Monroe, without Redeker.

AT A GLANCE

The letter signed by four of five board members and Superintendent Rick Monroe to Gov. Scott Walker and legislators calls for three specific considerations:

tying the revenue limit to the consumer price index

making sure any funding to choice, voucher, or charter schools doesn't affect public school funding, as well as those schools are held to the same accountability standards

allowing school boards around the state to set their own school start dates

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