One of the funding reforms State Supt. Tony Evers has advanced in the DPI’s 2017-19 budget request to the governor would “weight” the per-pupil categorical aid to account for students in poverty, students learning English, and students in foster care. Each student in one of these categories would be counted as 1.2 students and would thus capture additional funding for their school districts.
This is a new proposal that has not been a part of previous “Fair Funding” plans.
Weighting pupils in this manner will result in districts receiving additional funding for each pupil in these categories. Furthermore, each weight in this calculation would be additive.
To illustrate this using the current base per pupil aid amount of $250 per pupil, a school district would receive an additional $50 (20 percent of the base payment) for each pupil in one of the specified demographic groups (or total of $300 for that pupil). A pupil who falls into two of the groups would generate $350, and a pupil that falls into all three would generate $400.
Under the proposal:
- An “economically disadvantaged” pupil is defined as “an enrolled pupil who satisfies the income eligibility criteria for a free or reduced-price lunch in the federal school lunch program.”
- “English language learner” is defined as “an enrolled pupil who is classified as an English Learner under the process given in s. 115.96 (1), Wis. Stats.”
- A “pupil in foster care” is defined as “an enrolled pupil who is in a foster care placement at any time during the school year as determined by the State Superintendent.”
It is estimated the change would add about $18.7 million to per pupil aid payments statewide. Currently, the state distributes roughly $211.2 million in per pupil aid statewide each year. Under the existing formula, each district receives the same amount (currently $250) per pupil. Per pupil aid is received outside the revenue limit and may be spent without limits or “strings attached.”
According to the DPI, “The advantage of weighting Per Pupil Aid is that it would drive more funding to school districts, that are otherwise operating under strict revenue controls, to reflect the individual districts’ proportion of ED, EL and FC pupils. The Department believes that the result of such weighting will provide additional resources to districts that arguably are in most need of additional resources to meet the programming needs of their pupil populations.