By October 15 of each year, the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is statutorily required to compute General Equalization Aids for the current school year for each public school district in the state using the most accurate (i.e., audited) data available from each district’s prior fiscal year Annual Report, September and January Membership Reports and equalized property valuations as certified by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) for the prior calendar year. The resulting aid amounts–modified by the prior year (in this case, 2016-17) final aid eligibility adjustments–are paid to districts during the current fiscal year (2017-18).
Because October 15 falls on a Sunday this year, the DPI has released this information to school districts on the last weekday before the 15th. As a result, the October 15 General School Aid Certifications for all school districts for the 2017-18 school year are now available online at: http://dpi.wi.gov/sfs/aid/general/summary.
Continue reading DPI Releases 2017-18 General Aid Certification for School Districts
The state’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee voted along party lines 12-4 on a GOP motion to expand the Special Needs Scholarship Program (SNSP) as part of the state budget bill. This program provides vouchers to enable students with disabilities to attend participating private schools with no income eligibility limits. Governor Walker did not propose expanding the program in his budget proposal. The following proposals adopted today (Sept. 6), and described below, are estimated to expand special needs voucher program participation by 250 pupils in 2018-19 and result in an over $3 million aid reduction to public school districts in 2018-19: Continue reading JFC Approves Special Needs Voucher Expansion
The state budget package approved by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) also includes funding to provide incentives for school districts to consolidate, share whole grades, and share administrative services.
Consolidation Aid–The JFC-approved K-12 package creates a new sum-sufficient (state moneys will be provided sufficient to fully fund aid demands) appropriation to provide categorical aid funding for two or more school districts that consolidate into one district. Districts could qualify for aid equal to $150 per pupil attending school in the consolidated district for the first five years after the consolidation. In the sixth year the district would qualify for 50% the fifth year amount. In the seventh year, districts would qualify for 25% of the fifth year amount. (Categorical aid is received outside the revenue limits.) Continue reading JFC Budget Includes Incentives for Consolidation, Shared Grades/Services
The Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC) voted yesterday (Aug. 28) to expand eligibility for the statewide voucher program in several ways.
Changes to family income eligibility–The measure drawing the most media attention calls for raising the family income eligibility limits for the statewide private voucher program from 185 percent of the federal poverty level to 220 percent, beginning in the 2018-19 school year. It is estimated that this change will allow an additional 550 students to participate in the statewide voucher program compared to current law and will reduce state aid to the public school districts in which those pupils reside by $4.4 million. There would be a corresponding adjustment in the revenue limits of the affected districts. Continue reading JFC Budget Expands Voucher Eligibility
A recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article widely reported in Gannett newspapers across the state provided details on how a budget plan proposed by Senate Republicans would increase funding for the state’s three main private school voucher programs by nearly $60 million over the next two years, according to an analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB).
In that article, a quote attributed to voucher advocate Jim Bender mischaracterized the fiscal impact of the statewide and Racine voucher programs on school districts that have resident pupils participating in those programs. Continue reading What is the REAL Fiscal Impact of Voucher Funding on Public School Districts?
The Assembly Republican school funding plan includes provisions we support and it is a positive sign that Assembly GOP legislators recognize the need to increase state aid for school districts. We appreciate and strongly support removing the “strings” of the healthcare cost shift mandate and how funding needs to be budgeted per school building to receive the proposed increases in per-pupil aid. The WASB also supports raising the low-revenue ceiling to help historically low-spending districts and increased funding for high cost special education aid. There are a wide range of other provisions included in the proposal that we are still reviewing.
However, we are concerned that this plan backs away from the governor’s proposed per-pupil categorical aid investments. The WASB does do not support reducing the governor’s proposed increase by $50 per pupil in 2017-18. The governor’s original proposal, for the first time in several budgets, provides nearly an inflationary increase in state aid to almost all school districts in the state.
Overall, we hope legislators will support the governor’s investments in per-pupil aid at the $200 and $204 per pupil level while also supporting local control and incorporating the positive proposals from the Assembly GOP on the low- revenue ceiling.
-John H. Ashley is Executive Director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards
A recently introduced Assembly Bill—Assembly Bill 267—aims to call attention to the growing impact of Wisconsin voucher programs on school property taxes.
The “Wisconsin Voucher Taxpayer Transparency Bill,” authored by state Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) would require property tax bills to include information from the school district where the property is located regarding the amount of any net reduction in state aid, if any, to the district as a result of pupils enrolled in the statewide voucher program, the Racine voucher program, or the Milwaukee voucher program. (See news release.)
Continue reading Bill Seeks Transparency on Property Tax Impact of Voucher Funding