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Brown Deer School District drafting letter to legislators detailing state budget needs

Nov. 28, 2012

Brown Deer - The Brown Deer School Board on Tuesday decided to draft a letter to send to state legislators detailing the district's needs for the next biennial budget.

Brown Deer has faced massive cuts over the last state budget cycle. As talks of the new biennial budget begin, board member Dennis Griffin said this is an opportune time for the board to voice its opinion. Griffin recently attended lobbying meetings focused on the Department of Public Instruction's Fair Funding proposal, a plan DPI says would fix Wisconsin's funding formula and make it fair and equitable. In light of these lobbying efforts, Griffin brought the discussion of lobbying to the board to see what efforts they could make.

The issue is not whether the board supports the Fair Funding proposal, but rather what the district's main needs are in relation to state aid, Griffin said.

"I'm not saying if we should support the funding formula, I'm saying this is a good time to communicate what we need in Brown Deer," he said.

At the top of the list is more state aid. Business Director Emily Koczela said at the very least, Brown Deer needs to make it clear that it cannot withstand any further cuts in aid.

Kevin Klimek said every district is going to ask for money, but a need for predictability from the state is also highly important. Because districts don't know what they face each year with increases or decreases in aid, long-range planning is difficult.

For many reasons, Koczela said Brown Deer is in a prime situation to express its needs to legislators. For example, this year Brown Deer is completing the Chapter 220 program, something many school districts are still working through.

Chapter 220 allows minority students from Milwaukee to attend suburban schools.

"We've never had more clout than we do now," Koczela said.

A down side to completing Chapter 220 is the district will lose $1 million that is given to district's working through the program. As a result, the board debated ways to express to legislators the need to take into account districts that have more special needs and economically disadvantaged students because these children need more resources.

Board President Gary Williams said "poverty and special needs students need to be on the top of the list."

The board directed staff to draft a letter to legislators detailing the budgetary needs of Brown Deer, which will come to the full board in December for approval.

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