School districts to experience drop in state aid

By Kelsie Hoitomt

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s general aid certification, 64 percent of the state’s public school districts will receive less school aid for the 2012-2013 school year than they did in the previous year.

Schools will receive $4.293 billion in general aid for the current school year, an increase of 0.7 percent from last year.

This aid amount is down more than seven percent from two years ago when the 2011-2013 biennial budget cut general school aid by 8.1 percent.

Though general school aid increased by $31.7 million from last school year, the actual amount of general aid that the state’s 424 public school districts will receive is less than the amount appropriated due to statutory reductions for private and independent charter schools supported by state tax dollars, such as those in Milwaukee and Racine.

General aid amounts to districts are based on audited school district data from the 2011-2012 school year, which include membership, shared costs and property value.

School membership, which is not the same as enrollment, declined by more than 1,900 full-time equivalent (FTE) students and totaled 855,327 FTE.

Property valuations range from $9.03 million per pupil to $186,900 per pupil, a ratio of 47:1 between the most and least property wealthy districts in the state.

To address property wealth disparities and other school finance issues, State Superintendent Tony Evers will reintroduce his school funding reform proposal in November.

The “Fair Funding for Our Future” plan provides a guaranteed amount of funding for every student regardless of where they live and accounts for local family’s income to make Wisconsin’s school finance system more fair, sustainable and transparent.

As required by statue, the DPI estimates general school aid each year in July. Then by October 15, the agency certifies the amount of aid each school district will receive. School boards use this aid certification to finalize their property tax levies.