As we posted previously, Gov. Evers last week called for a special session of the legislature to take up a plan to invest a portion of state surplus funding in K-12 education. The governor’s proclamation calls for the special session to convene at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 11, 2020, which is tomorrow.
See below more specific details of the plan:
- Provides $79.1 million GPR in fiscal year 2021 to increase the estimated reimbursement rate for school district special education costs from 30 percent to 34 percent;
- Increases the funding for high-cost special education aid by an amount necessary to reimburse school districts for 100 percent of certain costs over $30,000 incurred to support a student with disabilities;
- Converts the relevant high-cost special education aid appropriation from a sum certain to a sum sufficient appropriation;
- Increases funding for special education transition readiness grants by 100 percent, or $1.5 million GPR;
- Provides $19 million GPR in additional school-based mental health services;
- Expands the types of costs that are eligible for aid under the program to include school counselors, psychologists, or nurses;
- Provides an additional $3.75 million for the School-Based Mental Health Collaborations grant program;
- Provides $10.1 million to invest more in sparsity aid payments for rural school districts, including establishing a second tier of sparsity aid for school districts that would otherwise be eligible (based on student population density) but have an enrollment of more than 745 pupils;
- Provides an additional $3.6 million for the expansion of summer school programming in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, and Racine as eligible districts;
- Permits school districts to hire newly retired employees within 30 days rather than the current 75 days;
- Provides an additional $130 million in equalization aid for property tax relief.
Some things the governor’s plan would do:
- Provides what would be a permanent increase in the state’s commitment to special education funding. Under a provision of federal law requiring the state to maintain its effort (i.e., it level of spending on special education), the state could not (in future years) reduce its monetary outlay for special education aid below the new level set by this bill. (The additional special education categorical aid called for in the plan would reduce each school district’s need to transfer funds intended to support educational programs for all students–i.e., regular education programs–in order to cover a greater portion of special education costs not reimbursed under current special education categorical aid funding levels.)
- Provides $130 million in additional school property tax relief by increasing equalization aid funding without raising (adjusting) per pupil revenue limits.
Some things the governor’s plan would not do:
- The plan would, for the most part, not increase school district budgets or spending. Although school districts would be able to spend certain additional amounts provided under the plan (e.g. additional sparsity aid and mental health funding), because revenue limits would not be increased the additional funding provided for equalization aid would be channeled to property tax relief not additional spending.