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Several school districts to receive less aid

MADISON — More than half of Wisconsin public school districts will receive less general aid in the 2015-16 school year than they did for the 2014-15 school year according to estimates released today by the Department of Public Instruction.

Although the 2015-17 state budget has not been finalized, the most recent version of the biennial budget maintains the same level of general school aid ($4.476 billion) as was appropriated in the 2014-15 fiscal year. Actual aid payments are estimated at $4.346 billion because of statutory reductions for the Milwaukee voucher program and for independent (2R) charter schools. Of the state’s 424 school districts, 55 percent (234) are estimated to receive less general aid in 2015-16, while 44 percent of districts (188) are expected to receive more aid. Two districts have no change in the aid estimate between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 fiscal years. With school aid being held at the same level as the prior year, other factors such as property valuation, enrollment, and shared costs in the general equalization aid formula impact whether the aid estimate for a district increases or decreases. District aid estimates can be found on the department’s School Financial Services website, http://sfs.dpi.wi.gov/sfs_genaid_current, both alphabetically and by percent change.

State statute requires the department to compute an estimate of the general school aid each public school district will receive for the coming school year by July 1. School personnel use the estimate to complete their annual budgets. On Oct. 15, the department will certify state general aid amounts for 2015-16 based on audited 2014-15 data. Estimated general aid to districts may change.

The department’s July 1 aid estimate does not include per pupil categorical aid, which will be based on student membership from the 2015-16, 2014-15, and 2013-14 school years (third Friday in September count). That aid will be paid in March 2016. The current budget appropriates $127 million for that aid, which is $150 per pupil, the same amount as it was in the 2014-15 fiscal year.