Not a Great Outlook for the “Fairly Normal” School District

At a forum on “Key Wisconsin Education Issues as Big Decisions Approach” held Monday at the Marquette University Law School, Bob Borch and Scott Grella of PMA Financial, a consulting firm that works on school finance with districts around the state, provided the audience with an update on what the future of the “Fairly Normal” school district would look like with a $150 per pupil aid cut. It wasn’t a pretty picture.

Scott Gralla described a five-year projection for the financial health of this generic Wisconsin school district, based on current assumptions, in blunt terms: “In four years, this district will be insolvent.”

If you would like to see those not-so-pretty pictures we have a copy of their presentation slides here.

Here is a video of the presentation. The presentation begins at the 1 hour mark.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the “fairly normal” school district, it is a “hypothetical” district located in the central part of the state.  It has steady (flat) enrollment of about 5,000 students, a balanced budget and a healthy fund balance.

The idea of the “fairly normal” school district comes from Bob Borch, a longtime school business official who finished his career as a consultant with PMA Financial.  Mr. Borch uses the “fairly normal” school district to model how different changes in school funding (e.g., changes in state general aid, revenue limits, etc.) might affect a “typical” Wisconsin school district.