Lance Trollop on the challenges facing education in Wisconsin
Published in 2015 Wisconsin Super Lawyers Magazine on November 23, 2015
“It’s an interesting balance,” says Lance Trollop of finding equilibrium between his work as a personal injury lawyer at Bremer & Trollop Law Offices and his duties as the president of the Wausau School District Board of Education. “But it is rewarding. … If I didn’t think I was making a difference for the Wausau School District, I would stop.”
Trollop, who was raised in Wausau and whose mother was both a teacher and an administrator in the district, was first elected to the school board in April 2011. Three months later, Act 10, which effectively ended collective bargaining rights for school district employees, was passed.
Though Act 10 was, he says, “the first big challenge,” it certainly isn’t the only one. Funding issues, unsurprisingly, are a common topic of discussion. And this past summer, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that expanded the state’s voucher program to allow public funds to help pay for tuition at private schools.
“It doesn’t make sense to me to take taxpayer money and give it to a private business without requiring that private business do everything that you require of the public school,” Trollop says. “I also don’t think that we can afford to have two different school systems running off of taxpayer money.”
Another point of contention arises, he says, when politicians claim that public education is being fully funded, yet ignore inflation, spending caps and revenue limits.
“If we look at the most recent state budget that was passed,” he says, “there was a little bit of increased funding for public education, but there wasn’t any increase in the revenue cap. The result is that there isn’t any actual increased funding for public schools. Instead, what that means is there’s local property tax relief.”
As a school board member, Trollop doesn’t have a say in how much funding the district gets. He’s mostly in charge of setting agendas and running the school board meetings. Even as president, he doesn’t claim any real authority over the nine-member board. In fact, no individual on the board has any power. Their strength lies as a collective.
That idea seems to spur Trollop’s work. “We’re not really a country of equal opportunity if we don’t provide an equal education to all of our children,” he says.