As respected business owners, many of us work to support school referenda in our communities, but this is a temporary solution. Our schools face continual shortfalls if we don’t solve the school funding problem where it started: the State Legislature.
We’re working with a broad coalition of public education supporters to be sure that all Wisconsin kids get a good education. We do not support the creation of for-profit, tax-supported schools in our state.
Public schools are top employers.
Public school districts are among the top 10 employers in 99 percent of Wisconsin counties and among the top five employers in more than half. In rural counties like Vernon and Polk, public schools employ around ten percent of the workforce. Those school employees are our customers. When school employees lose their jobs or take a pay cut, they have less money to spend on the goods and services that we offer.
Schools are the heart of our communities.
Our member businesses are concerned, and rightly so, that the continued transfer of taxpayer dollars from public education to for-profit entities will lead to small-town schools being downsized or closed outright. When schools are consolidated, the towns that lose their schools also lose much more: student travel time increases, parental involvement decreases, home values decline, and businesses close their doors. As Cornell researcher Thomas Lyson noted, “Schools are vital to rural communities. The money that might be saved through consolidation could be forfeited in lost taxes, declining property values and lost businesses.”
Fair funding is the solution.
We support State Superintendent Tony Evers’ “Fair Funding for Our Future” plan because it:
- Fixes Wisconsin’s school funding formula to be fair, sustainable, and transparent
- Holds the line on property taxes
- Directs all state aid right to schools
In-person visits with legislators: At our first Lobby Day in April 2013, our members went to the State Capitol to talk with legislators about the importance of public education in their communities. This will be a major focus in our next Lobby Day in Spring 2015. We particularly need business owners from small towns and rural areas. Please join us to receive updates about this important effort.