Wisconsin school funding task force created

File photo (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- A commission of legislators and district administrators has been formed to revamp the state’s school funding formula.

“It's very, very complicated,” said State Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay). “Hardly anybody really understands all of it, so it's been an ongoing issue for a lot of people.”

Kitchens is co-chairing the new commission that will look to revamp the system. Kitchens was Sturgeon Bay’s school board president for 12 years before joining the State Assembly.

The funding formula was created in the 1970s and relies heavily on the number of students and property values in each district. The system was last revised in the mid-90s.

“I think the public needs to be able to have some idea what's being done, especially when you ask people to pass a referendum, but yet, they don't understand the formula at all. It's just difficult,” said Kitchens.

Six Republican lawmakers and three Democrats are on the commission. District administrators from across the state are also on it, including Green Bay Area Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Langenfeld.

“I don't plan to just tweak it,” said Kitchens. “I think we want some pretty major changes in it.”

“I'm glad that it is coming to fruition, but we would like a voice at the table,” said Amanda VanRemortel, president of the Green Bay Education Association.

VanRemortel believes teacher input should come before listening sessions that are planned for early next year.

“I just don't know how much influence we'll have in a listening session,” said VanRemortel. “If we actually had a voice on the commission level, I think that would be better.”

The commission will meet for the first time next week.

Kitchens says the goal is to come up with a recommendation by the end of next year.

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