State News

Walker visits schools to promote legislation to boost aid for rural districts

Walker visited schools across Wisconsin Tuesday to promote legislation to increase state aid for rural schools.

Image By: Katie Scheidt

In a series of visits to Wisconsin schools, Gov. Scott Walker announced Tuesday his plan to increase aid for education in rural areas.

Resurrecting efforts previously rejected in his state budget, Walker backed a bill proposed by state Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, and state Rep. Jeff Mursau, R-Critiviz to add more state funds toward sparsity aid.

The current sparsity aid program allots $300 per pupil to rural schools with a student population of 745 or less and a population density of fewer than 10 students per square mile.

Under the revised plan, previously qualified schools for the program now receive a $400 per pupil. In addition, the sparsity aid fund will extend to schools with a population between 746 to 1000 students, receiving $100 per pupil.

“This increase in Sparsity Aid will positively impact rural school districts across Wisconsin,” Mursau said in a statement. “Our rural districts face significant challenges and I’m thankful we have an opportunity to provide these districts additional state support.”

Along with the revision, Walker supported a plan to bolster student transport under the High-Cost Transportation Aid program, providing schools with reimbursement for transportation services as well as an expansion of broadband access.

Supporters say the new focus on low-populated school districts enables greater spending on educational equipment, technological integration and student services. This would help rural schools which are often constrained by the resources they can offer students.

In a tweet addressing the Sparsity Aid plan, Walker says the new provisions would allow “every child [to have access] to a quality education, regardless of ZIP code.”

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