Sunday, February 8, 2015

Walker's Championed School District Is Failing By The Numbers

After Scott Walker dropped his bomb of Act 10 and as he was preparing for the inevitable recall attempt, he was desperately trying to show that his plan was working. One area that he repeatedly focused on as one of his "success stories" was the Kaukauna School District. The dark money front groups American for Prosperity and MacIver Institute joined forces to collaborate with Walker's campaign by touting Walker's false claims of how much money it was saving.

Jake at his Funhouse pointed out that Walker's savings were nothing more than smoke and mirrors, allegedly solving a problem that didn't exist until Walker created it.  And even then, Walker didn't really solve the problem he created.

A year later, when we revisited Kaukauna, it was found that things were going to hell in a hand basket, as was predicted:
The owner of a $150,000 home within the Kaukauna and Little Chute school districts will see annual costs jump $80 and $61, respectively, if the home’s value increases or decreases at the same rate as the school district’s projections.

After several years of cutting spending, the Kaukauna Area School District no longer had any fat to trim and will have to increase the tax levy for revenue, said Bob Schafer, business manager for Kaukauna. Because the district spent less than it budgeted, state aid was reduced by more than $850,000, according to figures from the Department of Public Instruction.

“Our biggest dilemma was No. 1, the dropping property values, and No. 2, the amount of state aid,” Schafer said. “We lost a lot of state aid this year.”

Kaukauna also underspent their budget last year by about $1.5 million due to healthcare and retirement adjustments, which meant a smaller state aid payment for the 2012-13 year.
If anyone thought this was just a bump in the road to the prosperity that Walker promised, think again.

The untold costs of Act 10 are being seen now that open enrollment season is upon the state (emphasis mine):
This is the time of year when families can apply to send their children to public school districts outside the areas they live.

The process is called open enrollment, and it cost five Fox Cities public schools millions of dollars in 2013-14.

Public schools receive money from the state for each student enrolled. When students who live in Appleton, for example, attend school in Neenah, the state aid follows the student. Here is a breakdown, according to data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction:

The Kaukauna Area School District had the largest decrease in state aid as a result of open enrollment. Ninety-three students transferred into Kaukauna schools during 2013-14, while 641 transferred out. The result was a net loss of 548 students, and $2.9 million in state aid.
The main reason why parents would want to have their children enrolled in a different school system is because they feel the school district they live in is not meeting the needs of their children. They feel so strongly about this that they are willing to have their children take longer commutes to go to what they believe to be a better school district.

It's understandable why parents would seek out other school districts that would better serve their children.  Thanks to Walker's cuts to education, there are less experienced teachers, programs have been cut, and class sizes are bigger.

Walker's education agenda wasn't working then and it's even more of a failure now.


  1. Yet somehow 4 miles away in Kimberly they spend LESS per pupil and have substantially higher test scores.

    Kaukauna spending per pupil: $10,307
    Kimberly spending per pupil: $8,801
    Kaukauna high school test score ranking (10 is best): 4
    Kimberly high school test score ranking (10 is best): 8

    1. Opps, sorry, that test rating for Kaukauna high school should have been 5, not 4, however Kimberly is still substantially better.

    2. The money spent in the district isn't the only factor, of course. Just checked; there's a $4,000 / year difference in family income between limberly and Kaukana. Guess which one's higher? Right: The one with the higher ranking. I teach in Lenox, Mass., whose median household income is $10,000 / year higher than for Lee, MA, its closest neighbor and arch-rival. The towns are identical in size (about 5,000). Lenox is consistently the best in the county in SAT scores, MCAS scores, whatever you want to measure; Lee is consistently near the bottom. All my students (nearly) have college-educated parents and arrive at school rested, well-fed, and knowing that there's college in their future. Lee's teachers don't have nearly the same situation. I'm not a better teacher than they are - and we don't spend a lot more money per student. Teaching my students is like shooting fish in a barrel.

  2. I live in the area served by Kimberly public school. The area known as Darboy within Kimberly schools continues to have new homes built within it for several years with room to grow. The Kaukauna school district is almost landlocked with not as much building happening. Parents in Darboy usually have college degrees and are middle class while Kaukauna has more working class families and is working class to middle class.

  3. Well, that is, they drive their children to the school district next door...tomorrow, their in house district becomes a Charter and they get NO CHOICE, and must attend it, because of ACT 10. It's divide and conquer education!

  4. Funny that blue collar up north overwhelmingly vote for Walker. It defies all logic...

  5. And their State Rep is former deadbeat and all-around obnoxious jag troll Jim Steineke (check out when that guy pollutes the Wheeler Report with his Twitter feed. What a piece...)

    Yeah, how's that "low tax by any means" mentality all working out for you in Kaukauna? And good luck ever trying to get someone to buy your house when they can go to the next town and live in a much more desirable community.

  6. The open enrollment situation for Kaukauna is nothing new. The number of students using open enrollment to leave the district has been rising for at least a decade. And the ratio of students leaving to students coming into the district in 2013-14 is basically no different from 2009-10.
    Kaukauna Open Enrollment
    In Out Out/In
    2004-05 47 134 2.9
    2005-06 47 183 3.9
    2006-07 49 201 4.1
    2007-08 49 218 4.4
    2008-09 36 275 7.6
    2009-10 50 344 6.9
    2010-11 60 417 7.0
    2011-12 53 483 9.1
    2012-13 81 549 6.8
    2013-14 93 637 6.8