Education Week - April 19, 2017 - 14
An Education Week Analysis
Outside Donors Can
Alter Funding Mix
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 10
hands-on science experiments.
Academically, Kohler currently scores the highest of
the three on the state's report card. Its grade is 92 out
of 100, compared with 73 for Sheboygan Falls and 66
for Sheboygan Area.
The area's disparities are more economic than racial, as eight of the nine county districts are roughly
90 percent white. The exception is Sheboygan Area,
which is 60 percent white.
Although Sheboygan Area has long pushed to get
more students to attend a four-year college or university, historically only half its students have planned
to, said Superintendent Joseph Sheehan. So in 2014,
the district joined with private industry to launch
the Red Raider Manufacturing capital campaign to
raise $5 million for new technical education centers at
both high schools. The centers opened this school year,
their walls emblazoned with logos of the more than a
dozen businesses that stepped up with $4.1 million
when a federal grant fell through.
One donor was the Kohler Co., whose imprint
runs deep throughout the county. Students working
in the technical centers also can work as paid apprentices at the Kohler factory and potentially get
hired full time after graduation. Kohler also will
subsidize their higher education at nearby Lakeshore Technical College.
A recent graduate's starting salary can be
around $52,000 annually, said John Widstrand,
manager of maintenance and facilities at the
Kohler Co. He helps run the apprenticeship programs, which now have roughly 230 students.
About this series
Educators and the public
are aware that achievement
gaps often separate
students of color from their
peers and leave low-income
students lagging behind
their better-off peers. Less
obvious are the mechanisms
and circumstances that
contribute to those
This article is the second
of a series intended to
shed light on the "hidden
inequities" that keep
education from reaching the
goal of leveling the playing
field for all students. Each
installment is being
produced by Education
Week staff writers
working in collaboration
with the Education Week
Research Center. Future
installments will examine:
disparities in disciplinary
practices used with special
education students (May);
* School closings and
high student-mobility rates,
their impact on educational
quality, and their disparate
effects on different school
"We tend to hear a lot of negativity about manufacturing, as far as outsourcing and automation, so
some parents will ask, is there really a career there
that pays well and is stable for their children?" Widstrand said. "So there is a lot of work we've also had
to do on the private-sector side to meet up to our
side of the partnerships."
Sheboygan Falls, with neither the property
wealth nor the infrastructure of its neighbors, has
taken a grassroots approach to fundraising that
harnesses students' entrepreneurial prowess.
For its new tech center at Sheboygan Falls High
School, the district acquired a 33-ton plastic-injection molding machine, also known as a 3D printer,
through a partnership with Bemis, the plastics
manufacturer headquartered there. Students design and make school spirit items from plastic that
are sold to raise money.
Tipping its hat to the community's historical links
to agriculture, Sheboygan Falls also has used private funds to build "hoop houses," or greenhouses, on
campus. Students grow fruits and vegetables, which
they use in their cafeteria and sell at farmer's markets, using business plans they've developed, said
Born, the district's superintendent.
For all their differences, the districts last year
made a public statement of unity by joining the
Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp.'s
"Someplace Better" campaign, which hopes to attract new residents. It's a symbol of how Sheboygan
school leaders have navigated the dynamics of being
colleagues, uniting to push back on public education
funding cuts or draw more students to the county,
while also being competitors.
The districts must vie for both private donors and
students because Wisconsin is an open-enrollment
What Makes a K-12
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14 | EDUCATION WEEK | April 19, 2017 | www.edweek.org
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* Judy Wade, senior advisor,
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* MiChele MOlnar, associate
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state that allows families to enroll their children in
schools outside their home district.
In 2006, the state legislature lifted the cap on
the open-enrollment program, which led to double-digit growth for Kohler. Meanwhile, Sheboygan Falls saw enrollment drop by roughly 100
students during the same period. Born attributed
some of the decline to manufacturing job losses
and the recent recession.
Then in 2011, Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican,
led the charge to pass Act 10, which slashed $792
million in aid to schools, according to PolitiFact.
That came after his predecessor, Gov. Jim Doyle,
a Democrat, and lawmakers cut $284 million in
school district aid the previous budget year.
Walker now wants to boost state aid to schools
by $509 million, trickling down to a $200-per-pupil
increase for the 2017-18 school year and a $204 increase in 2018-19.
Sheboygan County school leaders aren't holding
their breath for more state aid, hence the pressure
to ramp up private donations.
Kohler's PTO president, Jennifer Kading, said
there is more of an ability to donate time or
money in Kohler since parents don't pay tuition
to send their children to private schools. She's
noted that many of her active co-fundraisers
come from dual-income households and work
in corporations there. No private or charter
schools operate in the district.
"We want to help support and protect public
education," said Kading, who has three children
in Kohler schools. "Yes, we are fortunate with
our financial situation, for sure. But it's a great
place to put your resources, as any parent would
likely want to do."
Research analyst Alex Harwin and research intern
Jack Williams contributed to this article.
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