GREEN BAY - Going to the gridiron to try to avoid gridlock, the state budget debate stopped at Lambeau Field Monday.
At the second of four public hearings and the only one in our area, a major focus of local residents was education.
Parents, administrators and students from all sides of the school voucher debate spoke Monday. It dominated the talk at the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee Public hearing.
A total of 182 people signed up to have their voices heard Monday. The majority focused on education. Both funding and what's best for kids.
Dozens of public school administrators from Northeast Wisconsin voiced their views against school vouchers in the Green Bay area and for greater funding across the board.
"Our hope as a school board is that the budget bills in there as far as vouchers, special needs vouchers and charter schools are removed from the budget," said Brenda Warren, Green Bay School Board president.
The proposed voucher program would provide public funding for private school tuition in certain under-performing school districts. That would include Green Bay, Sheboygan and Fond du Lac in our area.
"Those bills have a lot more conversation and deliberation before they should be voted on," said Warren."
Many administrators voiced support for a school funding plan mentioned by Republican Senators Mike Ellis of Neenah and Senator Luther Olsen of Ripon.
In it, spending would increase by $150 per child across the state in every public school.
Republican Representative John Nygren co-chairs the Joint Finance Committee. He says no concrete alternative plan to the governor's budget on schools has crossed his desk yet.
"I've actually been asking for a proposal because there's nothing on paper. Hopefully we'll have something in our hands soon to negotiate a deal with," said State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette.
While those in support of public schools drove hard numbers home to the Joint Finance Committee, area private schools hoping for a voucher program took a more personal appeal.
Dozens of school children from both Catholic and Lutheran schools attended the session.
"I think providing an excellent private education to a wider group is important. I learn at my school to be a good parent and a good employee," said a student at the hearing.
"The Green Bay Area Public School District is doing an excellent job educating seventy to eighty percent of the kids in their schools. But, that doesn't mean we can ignore the other 20 percent that want something slightly different," said Matt Kusso, Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools.
On Wednesday, a state committee will release its recommendations on what Wisconsin should do with the Common Core standards.
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