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.