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Gov. Walker visits Waupaca to highlight his plans for K-12 education

WAUPACA (WLUK) -- On Tuesday, Governor Scott Walker visited Waupaca High School to highlight his plans for education in his budget.

Walker’s budget includes $649 million in new state aids for all of Wisconsin’s K-12 schools and an increase in per pupil categorical aid by $509.2 million.

Governor Walker’s budget also raises total K-12 investment to $11.5 billion over the next two years.

“Because of the reform dividend, we have this dividend and we're able to invest,” said Governor Walker.

“I think his proposal is certainly a step in the right direction,” said Greg Nyen, the Superintendent for Waupaca Schools.

Under Walker’s proposal the district is estimated to receive more than $22.4 million in total state aid over the next two years.

“As the governor has outlines, it's been several years since we've seen that type of revenue in the biannual state budget, so I think what this translates to for students is opportunity,” said Nyen.

Nyen said although K-12 education has seen cuts in past state budgets, the Waupaca school district has been lucky.

"We have not had to make cuts in order to balance a budget or go to referendum,” said Nyen.

"We receive about 2/3 of our funding from the state and that is right on average,” explained Green Bay School’s chief finance officer, Andrew Sarnow.

The Green Bay Area School District currently receives more than $150 million in general state aid. Sarnow says he doesn’t think general state aid will increase a lot over the next two years.

"Until it's a finalized situation, we're going to be planning as if this money does not come,” said Sarnow.

Voters in the Green Bay District will also be asked for more money in April through two referendum questions.

"In 2016, we have over 150 referenda here in the state of Wisconsin. So people voluntarily are voting to increase their property taxes because the state is not living up to its obligation,” said State Representative Eric Genrich, D- Green Bay.

Genrich added democratic lawmakers have been asking for increases in public education funding for years.

"We appreciate the fact that he has decided to change course and invest some needed resources in our public schools, but we’ve been advocating for this for a long time so this does not make up for past incidents,” said Genrich.

Lawmakers are expected to vote and pass the budget by July.

The Waupaca School District may also be eligible for more money, with the governor's budget. The district could receive grants for mental health, and special needs.

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