Districts get preliminary state aid increases

MMSD increase $5 million below its own budgeted projection
Scott Girard

State aid
District        2013-14            2014-15 projected
                                               District         DPI
Madison    $52.2 million             60             54.9
Oregon      $18.6 million            19.3           19.3
Verona      $23.9 million            25.4           25.7


All three school districts Fitchburg students attend can expect state aid increases for the 2014-15 school year, though for one district it’s a much lower increase than expected.

The Madison Metropolitan School District had passed a preliminary budget June 16 with state aid numbers expected at nearly $60 million.

But the Department of Public Instruction numbers released July 1, which are preliminary and will not be finalized until final student counts are done in September, only project that number at $54.9 million.

That’s still a $2.7 million increase from 2013-14, but not nearly as large as expected.

School Board vice president James Howard told the Wisconsin State Journal he was unsure how the district had come to its $60 million projection.

“That’s a very good question, and that’s one we’ll all be looking for an answer for,” Howard told the State Journal. “If the preliminary budget is based on that $60 million state aid estimate, then that’s going to be an issue.”

That preliminary budget included a 1.99 percent property tax increase, which was lower than the initial April proposal of 2.11 percent.

The Verona Area School District, however, planned in its own budget for $25.4 million in general state aid, and could get even a bit more based on the preliminary projection of $25.7 million.

That would amount to a nearly $6 million increase from the 2011-12 school year, illustrating the district’s rapid growth and the financial boon provided by including 4-year-old Kindergarten students in the student population. That growth includes an expected 121 more students next year, which would mark the third-consecutive year of triple-digit enrollment increases.

The district is also proposing to purchase at least one piece of land through a November referendum to deal with the growing enrollment.

The district will hold its annual budget meeting in August.

In the Oregon School District, the state projects to increase its general aid by 3.73 percent, up to $19.3 million. In the 2013-14 school year, OSD received $18.6 million in state aid.

OSD finance director Kara Newton said the district had not yet projected for the state aid, and will use the DPI estimate as it moves forward in its budget process.

The district will hold its annual meeting in September, Newton said.

Statewide, 53 percent of districts are expected to receive more aid than in 2013-14, while the other 47 percent can expect a decrease.

Total state aid is expected to increase to $4.5 billion for the 2014-15 school year. That’s a 2.1 percent increase compared to 2013-14.

Official state aid numbers will be finalized Oct. 15.

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