Gov. Walker discusses rural school aid with Cashton staff, students

Staff and students in Cashton learned how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s rural education funding proposal could affect them. The governor stopped at the middle and high school to talk about the bill he signed into law earlier this week.

The bill changes the sparsity aid program and provides additional funding for rural districts on top of the $11.5 billion set aside for education in the state budget. When it goes into affect next school year, it will increase the amount of aid rural districts receive from $300 to $400 per student.

“That’s on top of the historic investments we made, an extra $200 at every school district this year for every student in every part of the state,” said Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisconsin.

Part of the bill would also increase a revenue ceiling limit over the next five years to allow school districts to have the additional funding.

“So that rural school districts, the students here, get the same sort of opportunities that students do in every other part of the state of Wisconsin,” Walker said.

Low-population districts have a unique set of challenges, like providing access to transportation or help with mental health.

“Sometimes there are challenges with just the scale of things. So we need to reach outside our boundaries to have access to resources,” said district dministrator Ryan Alderson.

With students traveling to school from a more than 100-square-mile area, the cost of just getting them to class quickly adds up.

“We’re very proud of our rural areas. We’re very proud of what we offer for kids and this legislation helps us do an even better job of that,” Alderson said.

By getting the extra funding, the rural schools can keep using their dollars on funding inside the classroom. That will help teachers better prepare students to enter the workforce.

“This is one more way to do that and one more reason why we focused into education now more than ever,” Walker said.

Almost 150 districts statewide could benefit from the law, according to the governor’s office.