Wisconsin releases school aid figures

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BELOIT - The Beloit School District will see an increase in state aid for the 2018-2019 school year while Turner, Clinton and Parkview districts are getting decreases.

Overall 55 percent of the state's public school districts (230 of 422) will receive more general state aid this school year than they did in 2017-2018, according to information released Monday by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

The School District of Beloit will receive $63,592,127 in 2018-2019, up 4.18 percent from $61,038,752, or a difference of $2,553,375.

School District of Beloit Executive Director of Business Services Robert Thom said last year's final adjusted aid was actually $61,040,957 and the increase was 4.18 percent.

"It is good news in that increased aid means a lower tax levy. It doesn't really change the overall budget as any change in aid is offset by a change in the tax levy," Thom said.

State equalization aid is computed using the prior year's financial information, September and January pupil counts and equalized property valuations as certified by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue for the prior calendar year. It's intended to reduce property-tax payers' portion of assistance in the state-mandated revenue limit.

When state aid increases, the district doesn't receive additional dollars it can spend. Instead, the aid is used in the required revenue limit computation to calculate the amount of levy the school board may consider when setting its general operations taxes in October.

The purpose of the equalization aid formula is to "level the playing field" by distributing aid to poorer districts with lower property values to make up for property tax base differences.

According to DPI, property valuations are one of the important factors impacting whether a district receives more or less general state aid than the prior year. Property valuations per pupil, for example, range from $9,373,200 in North Lakeland to $188,400 in Beloit, a ratio of 50:1 between the state's most and least property wealthy districts.

Beloit is the state's highest aided district, receiving state general aid that covers 83.1 percent of its eligible shared costs. There are 21 districts that receive no equalization aid because their property wealth exceeds $1.9 million per pupil.

Beloit Turner School District will receive $8,289,476 in 2018-2019, down 9.42 percent from $9,151,974 from the previous year, or $862,498 less in funds.

Turner Director of Business Services Brad Boll said the reduction in general aid was anticipated and will not impact Turner's budget or local taxpayers.

"Because we have retired a significant portion of our existing debt, we need fewer dollars to fund our 2018-2019 budget," Boll said.

In 2017-18 Turner levied $1,707,430 in Fund 39 (referendum approved debt service). In 2018-19 it will levy $350,000 in Fund 39.

This $1,357,430 reduction in the debt service levy means Turner can levy for all of the $862,498 that was "lost" in aid without any impact on local property taxpayers.

In addition to general aid and local property taxes, Turner will realize significantly more than $3,000,000 in revenue from open enrollment that is outside of the state imposed caps on revenue, Boll said.

Clinton School District will receive $7,274,425, down 4.56 percent from $7,621,880 in 2017-2018, or $374,455 less in funds.

The Parkview School District will receive $5,278,877, down 1.91 percent from $5,381,571 in 2017-2018, or $102,694 less in funds.

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