As the New Year begins, our Task Force wanted to inform the public on the progress we have made. The Assembly Speaker’s Task Force on Rural Schools has completed three public hearings across the state. Our task force has heard important and compelling testimony on rural school issues from superintendents, district administrators, educational groups, teachers and parents from around Wisconsin. Rural school districts face unique challenges, including the additional costs of transportation in rural areas, continued declining enrollment, the difficulty of retaining qualified teachers to live and work in small communities, and the additional costs of providing broadband and communication technologies in rural areas. All of these challenges result in additional financial pressures and funding disparities for rural schools.
Considering that nearly half of Wisconsin’s school districts are in rural areas, our goal is to assure that these students receive the same opportunities as urban schools; we believe that all members of our task force share this concern. As we continue to travel around Wisconsin, we hope to be able to work together to formulate innovative ideas to help meet the unique challenges facing rural schools.
The Task Force will have two additional public hearings in January and February. A final report of recommendations will be completed for Speaker Robin Vos (R- Rochester) by early March 2014. We invite all concerned parents, teachers, taxpayers or anyone interested in their local schools to attend our future spring meetings.
We would like to thank all members of the Speaker’s Task Force on Rural Schools for their continued hard work and dedication to rural school students. To follow the progress of the Speaker’s Task Force on Rural Schools, please view our website, legis.wisconsin.gov/committee/rstf/Pages/default.aspx.
State Representative Rob Swearigen and State Representative Fred Clark