Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Uncle Matt wants you--if you are 4 years old

4-K, Elmbrook, TAXES

If this picture and title seem a bit familiar, it is because I used it last April to discuss the district's desire to pull in every possible student--even if they were non-resident students. See: Uncle Matt wants you, even if it means we have to build bigger schools

The defeat of the spring referendum and the groups that formed as a result of that defeat, at least brought attention to the fact that the non-resident student population was driving the space needs at the high school level.

But the district is still looking for ways to increase their income. One of the ways they can do that is by increasing enrollments. Adding non-resident enrollment is a rather hot potato right now, but the district is still trying to sell us on the merits of 4K.

The Journal Sentinel reported today that the push for 4K was primarily for monetary reasons.

Here are some revealing excerpts from the article: (Emphasis added)

If the Elmbrook School Board does not create a permanent 4-K program, it will have to find other ways to raise revenue to protect district wide programs and services, Superintendent Matt Gibson said.

Stressing that he didn't intend it as a threat, Gibson said the main motivation for adding 4-K was financial - the state's revenue cap formula.

Student learning and achievement, and competitiveness with area school districts, are other reasons to offer 4-K, Gibson said. But finances are the key reason, he said.

As Elmbrook's enrollment declines, the state revenue caps endanger the district's ability to fund existing programs and services, Gibson said.

If the board does not approve 4-K, members will need to find other ways to "shore up" enrollment and revenues to avoid major budget cuts, he said.

Please keep in mind that the taxpayers of Elmbrook must fund every student enrolled in the Elmbrook school system. There are state aids, but these too are funded by taxpayers! Since state aid does not cover the entire tuition costs, our portion varies from about $3,000 to $10,000 per student. The Elmbrook taxpayer never comes out ahead. 

The more students we enroll, the more taxes the district must collect. There is no cash cow here, not even with the 4K students.

Notice that there was no mention of how the 4K program increases long term academic success.

Even Matt Gibson admits, finances are the key reason to start a 4K program.

Remember that yes, 4K puts more money into the school budget, but that money comes from us!

It is rather like the stereotypical welfare mother having more children to collect more money each month. The additional children give her an increase in income, but her increase is funded by an increase in our taxes. And like that mother, the increase in number of children also causes an increase in operational expenses.

There is no getting ahead on this one.

I could have just as easily titled this posting: Uncle Matt wants your 4 year old--for the money! Is that what education is all about?

Contact the board--especially Patrick Murphy, by phone, in person, or letter and Glen Allgaier.


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