A new categorical grant program, Sparsity Aid, sponsored by Kathleen, has brought some desperately needed financial help to smaller, rural school districts. Funded at $15 million this year, Sparsity Aid will add $ 1.3 million in new dollars to schools in the 31st Senate District for the 2010-11 school year.
Alma $ 76,959
Alma Center 166,988
Cochrane-Fountain City 186,418
Pepin Area 73,216
Plum City 82,227
Her efforts to move significant school funding reform forward are recognized. As one longtime Capitol observer noted: “State Senator Kathleen Vinehout offered some of the most compelling testimony I’ve ever witnessed this past November before the Wisconsin Senate Education Committee. … Her no nonsense, “get ‘er done” plaint to the committee was direct, compelling and simple. Unfortunately, no one in a leadership position is prepared to listen …”
The School Administrators Association, a statewide alliance of 3,000 school administrators gave Kathleen its 2010 Legislator of the Year Award calling her, “A tireless advocate for school finance reform, she clearly understands the challenges facing Wisconsin school administrators. But, what’s most important, she follows that understanding with action. In 2009-10, no state legislator had a greater positive impact on Wisconsin schools than Kathleen Vinehout.”
Kathleen also led the Rural Caucus in putting together a six-point plan that eases some of the mandates schools face; provides assistance for schools seeking efficiencies; offers a cushion for schools facing declining enrollment; makes more dollars available to schools for transportation; and adds flexibility for schools that want to consolidate. In particular, she was able to add more flexibility to the SAGE program which provides additional resources for children in their first years of school.
As one superintendent wrote to Kathleen, “I just want to thank you for your work … I think you put it very well when you said it will not solve the problem, but it will help. Every little bit helps and while major reform would be nice, I understand that in the real world, progress is made in small steps forward, not in sweeping changes.”