Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker plans to allocate extra funds for rural schools in his next budget, according to a story by Wisconsin Public Radio.
The budget proposal addresses recommendations from a state rural schools task force, such as increasing aid to alleviate rural transportation costs. “Anyone who lives in or near ... a rural district knows that there are exceptional costs, all the more often tied into the lack of density of population and the distance—particularly when it comes to busing and other transportation that students have to take to get to various schools,” Walker said to WPB.
Nearly 42 percent of school districts in Wisconsin are small and rural, and those districts serve about 23 percent of the state’s students.
Rural schools in Wisconsin have faced extensive cuts as the state has invested more in a private school voucher program and decreased aids to public schools. The state has reduced the amount of money it spends on each student by more than $1,000 since 2008, according to the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That is the second largest drop in per-pupil funding of any state.
To mitigate the effects of budget shortages, rural schools across Wisconsin have reported sharing teachers and increasing distance learning opportunities to offer elective classes like Spanish, and required classes like social studies. Some rural Wisconsin schools have also been forced to close.
Gov. Walker’s budget proposal will be released next week.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.