Nearly 30% of Wisconsin public schools to get less in state money | Wisconsin

(The Center Square) – Nearly a third of Wisconsin’s public schools are going to get less money from the state for the next school year.

The state’s Department of Public Instruction on Monday announced the general state aid estimates for July.

“Estimated general school aids for 2024-25 total $5.58 billion, representing an increase of 4.2% from 2023-24,” DPI stated. “Payments to districts will increase an estimated $234.3 million because of two factors: 1) an increase of $224.9 million per the state budget as passed by the Wisconsin State Legislature; and 2) the decrease in the required Milwaukee Public Schools funding for the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program due to statutory changes.”

Those changes are part of the shift away from using local Milwaukee money for the Parental Choice Program, and the move toward fully funding the choice program with state dollars.

Most of Wisconsin’s public schools should see more money from the state for the next school year. But many won’t.

“Of the state’s 421 school districts, 68.6% (289 districts) are currently estimated to receive more general aids than in 2023-24, while 29.5% of districts (124) are estimated to receive less; eight districts are estimated to have no change in aid,” DPI explained in a statement.

Sixty-four public schools in Wisconsin will see their state aid drop by the state-maximum 15% as part of Wisconsin’s hold harmless requirements.

Republicans across Wisconsin have been warning for months that their schools will be net-losers for the next school year.

Rep. Barb Dittrich said one school in her district, Oconomowoc Area Schools, will lose more than $500,000 because of MPS’s financial problems.

“There is an enormous ripple effect this scandal has on every one of the state’s students, ” Dittrich said in mid-June. “All students in the state must not be dragged down by the irresponsibility of adults who failed to file statutorily required reports and hide relevant information from voting taxpayers. If the educational bureaucracy wants to know why school choice is so popular in this state, they need only look in the mirror.”

DPI, in its statement Monday, warned local schools that Wisconsin’s state aid payments may change because of the ongoing problems at Milwaukee Public Schools.

“The current estimate is based on the 2023-25 biennial budget and pupil count and budget data reported by school districts to the DPI. Due to previously reported delays in financial data reporting by Milwaukee Public Schools, the DPI anticipates greater than usual volatility in these estimates,” DPI explained. “Figures used in this estimate may change by a greater than usual amount for the certification of general school aids, which takes place by Oct. 15, 2024. The department therefore encourages caution when utilizing this estimate.”

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