2019-21 state budget recap—what’s in, what’s out

Here’s a quick recap of some of the key K-12 education  provisions in the state’s new biennial budget as signed into law by the governor (with partial vetoes).

What’s In:

Revenue Limits:

  • Revenue limits for all districts will increase by $175 in the 2019-20 school year and by an additional $179 in the 2020-21 school year.
  • The “low revenue ceiling” for the state’s lowest spending districts, which was set at $9,400 in 2018-19 is increased to $9,700 in the 2019-20 school year and to $10,000 in 2020-21 and in each subsequent school year. (Note: This adjustment in the low revenue ceiling may not be available for certain low revenue districts in which a referendum to exceed the revenue limits was held and failed in specified years.)

General Aid:

  • General aid is increased by $83.2 million in 2019-20 and $246.74 million in 2020-21 over the prior base funding level.

Per Pupil Aid: 

  • Per pupil categorical aid, as affected by a partial veto, will increase to $742 per pupil in both 2019-20 and 2020-21. (Note: This represents an increase of $88 per pupil over the 2018-19 amount of $654 per pupil. Per pupil aid is provided outside of the revenue limit and the revenue limit formula.)

Supplemental Per Pupil Aid:

  • The budget act creates a new supplemental per pupil aid program. As affected by a partial veto, this new aid ($2.8 million in 2019-20 and $2.5 million in 2020-21) will be distributed to all school districts. (Note: Under the budget, as passed by the legislature prior to the partial veto, this supplemental per pupil aid would have been allocated only to certain low-aided school districts.)

Special Education Aid:

  • Special education categorical aid is increased by $15.53 million in 2019-20 and $81.34 million in 2020-21.  This resulting funding will reimburse 26 percent of special education costs in 2019-20 and 30 percent of costs in 2020-21.

School Mental Health Services:

  • Aid for school mental health services is increased by $3.0 million annually above the base level (effectively doubling this funding) in both 2019-20 and 2020-21.

School-Based Mental Health Services Collaboration Grants:

  • Funding for grants to school districts and independent charter schools to enable them to collaborate with community health agencies to provide mental health service to pupils is increased by $3.25 million annually above the base level funding (effectively doubling this funding) in both 2019-20 and 2020-21.

School Day Milk:

  • School day milk program funding is increased by $382,900 per year in 2019-20 and 2020-21 to a total of $1.0 million per year.

What’s Out:

Personal Computing Device Grant Program:

  • Although the statutory language governing this program remains on the books, a partial veto zeroed out the appropriation for this grant program in both 2019-20 and 2020-21. Thus, there is no funding from which to make grants.

Supplemental Special Education Aid:

  • The state’s supplemental special education aid program and associated is eliminated effective July 1, 2020. The program will remain in effect, however, for the 2019-20 school year.

TEACH Training Grants:

  • Training grants to eligible consortia and library systems for educational technology training for teachers and librarians are eliminated. (Note: TEACH Infrastructure grants remain but are funded at a lower level–$3.0 million per year in 2019-20 and 2020-21, down from $7.5 million per year in 2018-19.)

School Performance Improvement Grants:

  • The school performance improvement grant program and associated funding is eliminated effective July 1, 2020. (This program currently provides school improvement grants to certain public, private, and charter schools located within the boundaries of either the Milwaukee Public Schools or any school district that was placed in the lowest performance category on the accountability report in the previous school year.)

Lakeland STAR School:

  • Provisions that would have created and funded $250,000 in grants to the Lakeland START School and Lakeland STAR Academy were vetoed.

Robots4Autism:

  • Provisions that would have required the DPI to award $25,000 annually in grants to CESAs to implement robot-assisted educational programs for pupils with autism were vetoed.