Today’s fact addresses the question out there: how will we know that the State will continue funding the referendum at 64%?
Referendum costs fall under public education costs. The state has provided support to school districts for 160 plus years. The obligation of the state will remain. This obligation is supported by article 10 of the state constitution, created when Wisconsin became a state in 1848. Section 3, as amended April 1972, states that
The legislature shall provide by law for the establishment of district schools, which shall be as nearly uniform as practicable; and such schools shall be free and without charge for tuition to all children between the ages of 4 and 20 years.
Wisconsin even went one step further: in 1949, the state adopted a system to address property-wealth differences among districts, which provided equalization aid to poor districts and flat grants to districts with greater property wealth. Even though it is possible for the funding formula to change slightly, any change to the current funding structure would be challenged as occurred in 2000, in Vincent v. Voight, a suit that challenged the constitutionality of the school finance system on the basis of equity. The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the Wisconsin school finance system claiming that it was as equal as “practicable”.
“An Adequacy system is straightforward common sense. It is favored by court decisions in a growing number of states. It is better for students and their parents because it provides high quality educational opportunities. It is better for educators, because it provides them the resources they need to do their jobs properly. It is better for taxpayers and government officials, because it allows ways to hold schools accountable for the money they spend. And it is better for Wisconsin’s future, because while long-term economic health requires fiscal prudence, it also demands an educational system second to none in the world.” (Funding Our Future: An Adequacy Model for Wisconsin Public School Finance, Jack Norman, Ph.D., June 2002).