Wisconsin school districts
|K-12 Education in Wisconsin|
|State Superintendent: Tony Evers|
|Number of students: 871,105|
|Number of teachers: 56,245|
|Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:15.5|
|Number of school districts: 462|
|Number of schools: 2,243|
|Graduation rate: 88%|
|Per-pupil spending: $11,774|
|Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction • Wisconsin school districts • List of school districts in Wisconsin • Wisconsin • School boards portal|
|Education policy project|
|Public education in the United States |
Public education in Wisconsin
Glossary of education terms
- 1 Quick facts
- 2 In the news
- 3 State law
- 4 School board elections
- 5 See also
- 6 External links
- 7 References
Wisconsin is home to 462 school districts, 2,243 schools and 871,105 K-12 students.
State school administrators
- State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Evers
- Deputy State Superintendent: Michael Thompson
- Assistant State Superintendent, Academic Excellence: Sheila Briggs
- Assistant State Superintendent, Finance and Management: Brian Pahnke
- Assistant State Superintendent, Learning Support: Carolyn Stanford Taylor
- Assistant State Superintendent, Libraries and Technology: Kurt Kiefer
- Assistant State Superintendent, Student and School Success: Lynette Russell
- Chief of Staff: Jessica Justman
- Chief Legal Counsel: Janet Jenkins
- Communications Director: John Johnson
- Senior Policy Adviser: Jeff Pertl
The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in Wisconsin as reported in the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.
|Demographic Information for Wisconsin's K-12 Public School System|
|Ethnicity||Students||State Percentage||United States Percentage**|
|Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl. Students||665||0.08%||0.42%|
|Two or More||16,189||1.86%||2.54%|
|**Note: This is the percentage of all students in the United States that are reported to be of this ethnicity.|
In the news
Districts opt out of federal nutrition program
Several Wisconsin districts opted out of the National School Lunch Program in spring 2014 due to disagreements over changes in school nutrition guidelines. The program, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recently adopted new guidelines for school lunches that reduce salt, fat and sugar content. These guidelines were created by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and supported by first lady Michelle Obama, who has advocated for improved nutritional programs. The federal lunch program requires adherence to nutritional guidelines to receive financial assistance.
District administrators in Muskego-Norway School District and Waterford Graded School District withdrew from the National School Lunch Program as a reaction to the new guidelines. A district working outside of the program must pay for free or reduced-fee lunches, but superintendents in the withdrawn districts believe they will be in better financial positions. Waterford Grade Superintendent Christopher Joch argued that the costs associated with free lunches will be recovered by raising lunch prices by a dime and eliminating wasted food that meets stricter nutritional standards. Muskego-Norway school board member Rick Petfalski also suggested that districts want greater local control over nutritional programs.
Lawsuit over teachers' contract in Kenosha
In November 2013, the Kenosha Board of Education agreed to a new contract with the Kenosha Education Association (KEA) by a 4-3 vote. This agreement with the teachers' union drew attention because collective bargaining over public employee salaries is limited by state law under Act 10. This 2011 law also prohibits employers from withdrawing involuntary contributions to public employee unions from wages. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), a conservative legal aid organization, and Kristi Lacroix attempted to block the contract in court after the board vote. The WILL argued that the contract exceeded salary increase limits in Act 10. District officials countered that teachers were given one-time bonuses rather than salary increases under the agreement.
A 4-3 vote by the board during a June 5, 2014 meeting settled the lawsuit with WILL by paying $10,500 in legal fees. This settlement also nullified the 2013 agreement with the KEA.
School board composition
Wisconsin school board members are generally elected by residents of the school district, although some school board members are appointed to fill vacancies until the next election for the seat is held. Wisconsin school board elections typically follow one of these two methods, or a mixture thereof:
- At-large: All voters residing in the school district may vote for any candidates running, regardless of geographic location.
- Trustee area: Only voters residing in a specific geographic area within the school district may vote on certain candidates, who must also reside in that specific geographic area.
School boards consists of three, five, seven or nine members. Board members serve terms of three or four years.
- Common school district: A district operating schools in a city with less than 150,000 residents. Common school districts are required by state law to host an annual board meeting on the fourth Monday in July.
- First-class city district: A district operating schools in a city with 150,000 or more residents. As of July 2014, Milwaukee is the only first-class city in Wisconsin.
- Joint school district: A district serving K-12 students from two or more municipalities.
- Unified school district: A district operating schools in a city or group of cities with less than 150,000 residents. Unlike common school districts, unified school districts are not required to host annual board meetings.
- Union high school district: A district serving high school students from two or more municipalities. Union high school districts are required by state law to host an annual board meeting on the third Monday in July.
Wisconsin does not impose statewide term limits on school board members. However, terms limits on school board members can still be imposed on the local level.
School board elections
- See also: Wisconsin school board elections, 2014
A total of 11 Wisconsin school districts among America's largest school districts by enrollment held elections in 2014 for 30 seats. Each district held elections on April 1, 2014.
Here are several quick facts about Wisconsin's school board elections in 2014:
- The largest school district by enrollment with an election in 2014 was Madison Metropolitan School District with 24,806 K-12 students.
- The smallest school district by enrollment with an election in 2014 was West Allis-West Milwaukee School District with 9,281 K-12 students.
- Racine Unified School District had the most seats on the ballot in 2014 with four seats up for election.
- Four districts were tied for the fewest seats on the ballot in 2014 with two seats up for election in each district.
The districts listed below served 169,027 K-12 students during the 2010-2011 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Click on the district names for more information on the district and its school board elections.
|2014 Wisconsin School Board Elections|
|District||Date||Seats up for election||Total board seats||Student enrollment|
|Appleton Area School District||4/1/2014||3||7||15,194|
|Eau Claire Area School District||4/1/2014||2||7||10,914|
|Green Bay Area Public School District||4/1/2014||2||7||20,376|
|Janesville School District||4/1/2014||3||9||10,339|
|Kenosha Unified School District||4/1/2014||2||7||22,986|
|Madison Metropolitan School District||4/1/2014||2||7||24,806|
|Oshkosh Area School District||4/1/2014||3||7||10,111|
|Racine Unified School District||4/1/2014||4||9||21,100|
|Sheboygan Area School District||4/1/2014||3||9||10,124|
|Waukesha School District||4/1/2014||3||9||13,796|
|West Allis-West Milwaukee School District||4/1/2014||3||9||9,281|
Path to the ballot
To qualify for the ballot as a school board candidate in Wisconsin, a person must be:
- 18 years of age or older
- A resident of the district for at least 10 days before the election
Each candidate submits a Campaign Registration Statement and a Declaration of Candidate to the school district clerk. State law also requires a minimum number of signatures from district residents to qualify candidates for the ballot. The signature threshold is divided into three categories:
- First-class cities: 400-800 valid signatures
- Second-class cities: 100-200 valid signatures
- Other cities with no overlap with first-class or second-class cities: 20-100 valid signatures
State law allows candidates to claim exempt status from campaign finance reporting if contributions and expenditures do not exceed $1,000 during a calendar year. Campaign finance reports and exemption claims are submitted to the school district clerk.
- School board elections portal
- United States school districts
- List of school districts in Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
- Public education in Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Secretary of State
- Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
- Wisconsin Association of School Boards
- Wisconsin Education Association Council
- National Center for Education Statistics school district search tool
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
- ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
- United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
- United States Department of Education, "2012 EDFacts State Profile," accessed August 8, 2013
- Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, "State Superintendent's Cabinet," accessed June 13, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
- Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Some districts balk at latest serving of school lunch rules," July 1, 2014
- Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Kenosha schools, teachers union at odds over deducting union dues," February 11, 2014
- Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Kenosha School Board settles lawsuit over Act 10 dispute," June 6, 2014
- Wisconsin State Legislature, "Chapter 120: School District Government," July 1, 2014
- Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, "Counties, Cities, Villages, Towns: Forms of Local Government and Their Functions," accessed July 10, 2014
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Elementary/Secondary Information System," accessed March 21, 2014
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Ballot Access Checklist," accessed January 24, 2014
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Campaign Finance Overview: Local Candidates," May 2010
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