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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.

Posted February 23, 2000

 

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