Education Watch: Madison, Wausau, More Balance Finances with Enrollment Decline

Dec 9, 2022 | Wisconsin Voices Blog

From The Capital Times: “APL’s forecasting models show an average drop of 10% over the next five years, from [26,916 in 2018-2019 to] 25,139 this year to 22,739 by the 2027-28 school year. Board member Savion Castro said that…’the sooner we realize we have to band together and advocate for a funding formula that makes more sense for all districts in Wisconsin, the better off we will be.’” Read more here and watch it here.

Additional context from IRG Senior Research Director Quinton Klabon:

  • Schools statewide are struggling with Wisconsin’s low birthrates and immigration. Do they sell buildings, merge districts, leave job openings unfilled, or find efficiencies? This even affects Madison, one of the few places to grow in the 2010s. The latest census shows that Madison added 34,684 people since 2010 but still will lose a tenth of its schoolkids.
  • Madison seemed to call for raising statewide spending or taxing authority to avoid personnel cuts despite having fewer kids to serve. Though taxing Madison’s childless young adults would work for them, the rest of Wisconsin just has fewer taxpayers.
  • In contrast, Wausau put every option on the table, designed ace, clear materials to explain them to voters, and accepted parent feedback at multiple meetings. Student success must come first, even against financial realities.