Past Iterations of WEAC District Surveys Suggest That Public School Doomsday Approaches on a Regular Basis

The latest news from WEAC is that the sky is falling over the 2011-2013 budget cuts to education. However, it looks like the state’s teachers’ union is following a tried and true template when it comes to raising complaints over funding. In fact, the union has been on their chicken little kick for several years, as they constantly made the pitch for higher compensation for their members.

Here is a look at some press releases issued in conjunction with previous surveys . These documents range from 1997 to 2009. Instead of railing against budget cuts like in 2011, the targets of these releases are the state’s revenue controls, but all carry the same message – that public schools are doomed unless teachers are paid more.


Wisconsin students losing out under revenue controls

Posted: 4/14/2009 10:12:22 AM

April 14, 2009

For more information, contact
Christina Brey, WEAC Media Relations Officer

70% of Wisconsin schools increased class sizes last year,
nearly 65% offered fewer courses, survey shows

Wisconsin’s school funding system is forcing more school districts than ever before to severely cut programs and services just to stay afloat, an annual survey of school administrators reports.

The survey of 315 Wisconsin administrators shows that schoolchildren are losing out due to the compounding effects of revenue controls, enacted 16 years ago. An alarming trend continues as more districts are cutting academic offerings because other areas have already been reduced or eliminated.

This is the 15th year of the survey, which is conducted by the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators and the Wisconsin Education Association Council.

Sixty-three percent of school districts last year reported offering fewer academic classes. Vocational and technical education offerings are diminishing, and 58 percent of superintendents said they will cut programs such as art, music and foreign language in the next three years.

Administrators reported having to cut and reduce programs crucial to student success. Nearly 70 percent of superintendents said class sizes increased last year, 59 percent reported reduced programs for gifted and talented students and 54 percent noted reduced programs for at-risk students.

Educators are very sensitive to today’s economic slowdown, but note that school funding has been capped for 16 years. This has created a negative cumulative effect throughout the state (Table 1). The number of school districts reporting they offer fewer field trips for students jumped 62 percent last decade, and the number of districts that laid off teachers as a result of revenue controls increased 78 percent. Districts also are offering less professional development for teachers, laying off aides and support staff, and increasing teacher workloads at dramatic rates.

“For the first time in our proud history, Wisconsin is in danger of offering fewer opportunities to children. Previous generations built up our system of education, and we are now on the verge of dragging it down,” said WEAC President Mary Bell. “We need a new funding system: one that is accountable and targets money where it’s needed most in order to provide opportunities for all children.”

The report notes that these cuts in education come despite significant measures taken by school districts to increase efficiency.

For the first time as part of the survey, superintendents were asked what business strategies they’ve adopted to reduce costs in their districts. Every school district has adopted new business practices to control and reduce costs. Ninety-nine percent took steps to reduce energy costs, and 94 percent changed health care for employees in response to shrinking resources.

In addition to reducing energy and health care costs, 86 percent of school districts across Wisconsin combined jobs and duties within their district, 87 percent used cooperative education services, and 65 percent participated in purchasing cooperatives for school supplies and energy.

The responses show that school districts are accountable for the tax dollars they receive, but even substantial efforts to control expenditures cannot completely offset the negative effect of revenue controls.

“Our schools have used innovation to cut expenses and consolidated resources in response to these tough economic times, but this alone is not working. We can’t turn children away at the schoolhouse doors,” said Miles Turner, executive director of WASDA. “The evidence is overwhelming. Schools are trying everything they can to live within the unrealistic confines of revenue controls, but Wisconsin’s children are still losing educational opportunities.”

WASDA and WEAC are members of the School Finance Network, which has proposed a plan to change the way Wisconsin funds its schools. The Wisconsin Assembly Education Committee has scheduled a hearing on the School Finance Network funding reform plan at the state Capitol on April 21.


Revenue Controls Force School Districts to Cut at Heart of Education

State-imposed revenue controls are cutting the heart out of the state’s great schools, according to a survey released Friday (December 17, 2004).

The Wisconsin Education Association Council and Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators annual survey of school administrators uncovered a new trend in the 2003-2004 school year: districts are being forced to cut academic programs because of state-imposed revenue controls. Revenue controls severely limit the funds school districts can raise and spend.

“WEAC and WASDA have conducted annual surveys of school superintendents to determine the impact of revenue controls since they were imposed on school districts in 1993,” WEAC President Stan Johnson told a State Capitol news conference. “Every year, the survey documents the fact that revenue caps are increasingly harming the quality of education in our schools. Superintendents say their districts have been very diligent in finding ways to make cuts that don’t affect students and learning, but they are now beginning to cut academics – the heart of education.”

Five years ago, 41% of districts reduced the number of academic courses. In 2003-2004, 52% reported cuts to academics.

  • 13% of districts reported cutting sections of foreign language, vocational education, business education, family and consumer education, music, art, band, and physical education programs.
  • 12% reported eliminating entire courses in those content areas.
  • Cuts were least likely in the core (tested) areas of English/Language Arts, math, science and social studies.

Johnson said Wisconsin’s schools are among the best in the nation, but that status is threatened by revenue controls.

“We have reached a point where we no longer provide great schools for every child,” he said. “As curriculums are narrowed, more and more children will be denied learning opportunities. Evidence of this new reality is found in the growing societal gap, which continues to widen. A truly great school system would achieve a narrowing of this disparity.”

“School districts have done a heroic job living under this law, but they have reached the limit,” WASDA Executive Director Miles Turner said. “Districts are forced to make short-term decisions that will inflict long-term damage on schools, children and our communities.”

“If the quality of education declines, it’s not just the kids who are hurt,” Johnson said. “The value of Wisconsin residents’ single largest investment – their homes – will also decline, because schools and property values are directly related.”

“This is a serious concern for all Wisconsin residents, whether they have children in school or not,” Turner said. “Schools are an integral part of every community and its economy.”

Other findings in the study:

  • 68% increased class sizes.
  • 60% offered fewer courses.
  • 55% reduced programs for gifted and talented students.
  • 53% reduced courses in art, music, theater.
  • 51% reduced extracurricular programs.
  • 49% reduced programs for at-risk students.

The complete survey
Resoure page on school district revenue caps

Posted December 17, 2004


Revenue Controls ‘Doing Leaders of Tomorrow a Disservice’

State-imposed revenue controls are inflicting serious harm upon children, schools and the quality of education in school districts throughout Wisconsin, according to a survey released Monday (January 29, 2001).

The WEAC/Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators annual survey of school superintendents found that revenue controls are forcing districts to make choices that decrease the quality of education.

“We are doing our leaders of tomorrow a disservice,” said one administrator.

According to the statewide survey, 62% of school administrators believe the consequences of state-imposed revenue controls on the quality of education have been negative or very negative. Nearly 70% predict the quality of education in their districts will decline by 2005.

“Educators have been warning for years that revenue controls will force districts to make cuts that harm the quality of education children receive,” WEAC President Terry Craney said. “This survey is absolute proof: administrators themselves say children are being hurt. It is time to end this destructive law.”

The seventh annual survey found that revenue controls are forcing districts to:

  • Continue to delay or spend less on maintenance of their buildings and grounds (65.9%)
  • Delay or reduce the purchase of computers and other technology (67.3%)
  • Increase class sizes (49.8%)
  • Increase student fees (55.7%)
  • Use their fund balance to support the budget (53.1%).

Districts with declining enrollments report more serious problems than districts with increasing numbers of students.

The WEAC/WASDA study supports an Institute for Wisconsin’s Future report released last week, detailing the impact of revenue controls on districts throughout Wisconsin.

“Enough is enough,” Craney said. “The facts are in and the evidence is irrefutable: revenue controls are harming children and the high quality of education in Wisconsin. Every child deserves to be in a classroom that works with a trained and qualified teacher. Great schools benefit our entire state, and every state resident should join the call to end revenue controls.”

Some of the comments from administrators in the WEAC/WASDA survey:

  • “We are doing our leaders of tomorrow a great disservice.”
  • “No money, no programs.”
  • “We have been using imagination, reform, renewal and more efficient strategies for three years but we have hit a point of diminishing returns. No way to go but back to strategies like excluding, cutting programs, increase size of classes.”
  • “By 2004 we will have ‘tightened’ the budget and streamlined programs and will have nothing else to cut but core instructional programs.”
  • “Continued caps will require cutting the ‘meat’ since the ‘fat’ is gone.”
  • “We have done about all of the restructuring we can. There are no other steps to take. We are approaching very serious times.”

The WEAC/WASDA report is available online at WEAC will release another study looking at specific school districts and the damage they have suffered under revenue controls in the near future.

The report
Resource page on school district revenue controls

Posted January 29, 2001


Revenue Controls Blames for Severe Disrepair of School Buidings (sic)

More than half of Wisconsin’s public school buildings need preventive maintenance or repairs, costing more than $1.56 billion, according to a new report from the state Department of Public Instruction.

The agency released a survey of the condition of school facilities throughout the state. One in seven school buildings do not meet one or more building code requirements.

“Revenue caps are forcing districts to postpone what would otherwise be regularly scheduled maintenance,” State Superintendent John Benson said.

He called for more flexibility for local school boards under the state-imposed revenue controls.

WEAC President Terry Craney said the survey shows the need to change or eliminate revenue controls.

“This survey confirms the findings of WEAC/Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators polls, which have found districts consistently postponing maintenance of buildings because of the limits imposed by revenue controls,” Craney said. “When two-thirds of districts say their budgets prevent them from maintaining their buildings, something is wrong.”

Craney called for the elimination or overhaul of revenue controls.

“Wisconsin’s children deserve great schools with environments that are conducive to learning,” he said. “Revenue controls are preventing districts from creating quality public schools for all children.”

Posted January 24, 2000

2000 (again):

New Study Documents Negative Impact of Revenue Controls

School district revenue controls are forcing officials to make cuts that are having a negative impact on the quality of education, according to the sixth annual survey of state superintendents.

In this year’s survey by WEAC and the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, districts said about half the cuts resulting from revenue controls are “negative” or “very negative” for education.

This year’s survey went a step further than past surveys, which asked superintendents what type of budget cuts were being made as the result of revenue controls. This year, they were asked to rate the impact of the cuts on education.

The results reflect those of past years by indicating that revenue controls are continuing to force school districts throughout the state to make budget cuts. This year’s survey indicates that many of these cuts are indeed having a negative impact on the quality of education.

On average, districts made 11.2 cuts in 1998-99, and superintendents rated 52% of them “negative” or “very negative.” That means that, on average, revenue controls forced the typical district to make five to six cuts that harmed the quality of education. That is on top of a series of budget cuts made over the previous five years since revenue controls have been having an impact.

Cuts most perceived as negative included:

  • Delaying or reducing building maintenance or improvement projects.
  • Delaying or reducing the purchase of computers and other technology.
  • Delaying or reducing the hiring of new staff.
  • Delaying or reducing the purchase of textbooks and curricular materials.
  • Increasing administrator workloads.
  • Offering fewer staff development opportunities for teachers.
  • Using the fund balance to support the budget.
  • Limiting programs for students who are at risk and for gifted and talented students.
  • Offering fewer field trips for students.
  • Increasing class sizes.

The other major finding of this year’s survey is that in about two-thirds of districts (65%), revenue caps have resulted in cuts in programs and services that are extensive enough to be causing conflicts or disagreements between regular and special education teachers over the use of resources.

In comments attached to the survey, many districts expressed growing frustration over this battle for shrinking resources. In one district, it was reported that the priority given to special education funding has created “a general attitude of resentment” from staff, students and parents, and “a draining of funds for other programs.”

A third major finding from this year’s survey is that districts have been compensating for reduced resources by increasing student fees, which have risen about 60% over the last five years.


Revenue Controls Forcing More Cuts in Educational Programs

Revenue controls continue to hinder efforts to improve the quality of education in Wisconsin, according to a new survey.

WEAC and the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators’ fourth annual survey documents the cumulative impact of revenue controls.

Since revenue controls went into effect in 1993, more than one-third of administrators report reducing class size; more than two-thirds have delayed or reduced the purchase of computers and other technology; and well over half have delayed building maintenance and improvement projects.

“Previous surveys have consistently shown that districts are cutting back on programs and services in order to stay within the revenue controls,” WEAC President Terry Craney said. “The 1997 survey shows the long-term damage revenue controls are inflicting on our children and their education.”

Craney warned districts will be forced to make more and more serious cuts in future years.

“At the same time the state is raising expectations for students through academic standards and performance assessments, districts are losing resources to meet those expectations,” Craney said. “How much longer do the governor and Legislature plan to allow the quality of education to slide before they eliminate the revenue controls?”

Posted October 17, 1997