UPDATE: Majority of Wis. school districts to lose state aid - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Majority of Wis. school districts to lose state aid


MADISON (WKOW) -- There is more money for Wisconsin schools this year, but less of it is going to public schools and more to private and charter schools. As a result, most school districts around the state are getting less money this year.

For the most part, the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI) determines school aid by enrollment and property values. This year, new rules also change how much goes to the state's 424 local districts.

General school aid increased to $4.293 billion. That's up $31 million from last school year, but the actual amount of aid that goes to the public districts is less, because of a state requirement for charter schools to be supported by tax dollars.

That plan includes reductions for the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the Racine Parental Private School Choice Program, and 20 independent charter schools in Milwaukee and Racine. Total taxpayer costs for those programs is $157.8 million.

Although 64 percent of Wisconsin districts aren't getting as much state aid as last year, Madison is getting 35 percent more money. Madison Metropolitan School (MMSD) board members met Monday night to discuss how to allocate the funds. 

The district will get $15 million more than expected, thanks to the new 4-year-old kindergarten program. 2,000 new students means a bigger check from the state, and more wiggle room in the budget.

"The increase will allow us to reduce the property tax, as well as support some of the things that we hadn't been able to support before to implement the achievement gap plan," says Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore.

Property taxes might be much lower than predicted earlier this year. The average homeowner could pay $65 less than the anticipated 4.95 percent levy.

But lower taxes isn't something the Wisconsin Heights School District will see any time soon. Thirteen years of declining enrollment puts the Mazomanie area district at just 750 students this year. The district is getting 15 percent less help from the state, which means more help from the community.

Elworthy says in the past few years, the district has cut a third of staff and passed two referendums on their operating budget. Right now, he can't see room for more cuts, so he expects property taxes will go up.

"We'll continue to look for efficiencies, we'll look for cost saving mechanisms with our energy consumption," says Elworthy. "[But] those options are all but gone."


MADISON (WKOW) -- State education officials say the majority of Wisconsin public school districts will see less money in state aid this year.

The state Department of Public Instruction said Monday that 64 percent of districts, or 272 out of 424, will get less money than they did last school year.

Even though state aid increased by about $32 million, the amount public schools will get will decrease over the prior year after about $158 million is directed toward private school choice programs in Milwaukee and Racine.

The nearly $4.3 billion spent on school aid this year is down more than 7 percent from what schools received two years ago.

Each year, the state is required to notify district by October 15 with an estimate of how much state aid they will receive for that year.

Click here to view the DPI's news release on the announcement.

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