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New Assembly Speaker says change in school funding will have to wait

The Wisconsin Assembly's new majority leader says a big change in the way we pay for public schools won't happen any time soon.

School officials and teachers have had their hopes up since Democrats took full control of the state Legislature.

But Tom Nelson, D-Kaukauna, says the timing for a funding change couldn't be worse, because of the expected $5.4 billion deficit in the next state budget.

Meanwhile, school districts must give preliminary notices in the next few weeks to the workers they plan to lay off.

And the school board in Nelson's home town of Kaukauna is expected to vote Feb. 9 on a proposed cut of 35 employees.

There's been talk that schools will get less state aid next year, but Sen. Mike Ellis, R-Neenah, calls that premature.

Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle is not expected to unveil his next budget proposal until late February. By then, the state might know how much federal stimulus money it would get to ease the fiscal problems.