MADISON, Wis. — Public schools across the Badger State will get a share of $65 million to support their libraries, all thanks to Wisconsin’s Common School Fund (CSF).
The CSF was written into the Wisconsin Constitution back in 1848 to ensure there was a funding process in place for K-12 public schools.
Though a lot has changed since then, even today, the CSF remains the sole source of funding for books and technology at many schools across the state.
“It supports our school librarians and our school media specialists to address their needs but also critical challenges like the digital divide,” Wisconsin Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski said.
This year’s check was cut for a record-breaking $65 million, which amounts to a 25% increase from just a year ago.
“Actions like enshrining the Common School Fund in our state constitution, and announcing this historic distribution amount today, these are actions of hope that move us forward as a state,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly told reporters during a press conference held on Monday.
The money comes from fines, forfeitures, and unclaimed property, which goes into the CSF managed by the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL). Those dollars are then invested, with capital gains supporting the so-called permanent “school fund.”
“This check is a result of those investments, so this isn’t coming out of somebody else’s pocket,” Wisconsin State Treasurer John Leiber explained. “This is basically free money for the state of Wisconsin for our schools, and that isn’t being paid for out of somebody else’s paycheck.”
The $65 million in funding will be distributed to school districts on a per-pupil basis in 2024.