Madison public schools may receive about $7.2 million less in state money for the 2018-19 school year, according to Wisconsin Department of Instruction estimates released Friday.But Madison isn't the only district facing general aid cuts. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released its preliminary aid numbers for the next school year, and says 43% of Wisconsin district will see aid cuts. In addition, 50 of those districts will see aid losses of 15% or more compared to last year.
The Madison School District received about $48.2 million in state funding last school year, and this year’s estimate is $41 million — a nearly 15 percent drop.
“We were expecting that,” said district spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson. “Overall, it’s not a surprise and it’s what (the district) accounted for in our budget.”...
The budget tacks an additional $82 onto a property tax bill for a home valued at $267,000, according to the district.
The budget would draw $310.8 million in property tax revenue, up about 4.6 percent from last school year’s budget.
And the largest dollar cuts include many mid-level and large suburban districts, reductions which will likely need to be made up with by imposing higher property taxes.
Largest dollar cuts, Wisconsin districts 2018-19
Madison -$7.203 million
Verona -$3.058 million
Janesville -$2.311 million
Germantown -$1.769 million
Oconomowoc -$1.263 million
La Crosse -$1.098 million
Milwaukee -$0.966 million
Kettle Moraine -$0.890 million
West Bend -$-0.856 milliom
Now, some of this could be construed as a good thing, as the general aid formula is supposed to work as an offset to level the field between districts with high property values, and districts with large levels of poverty and/or low values of property to tax. This is certainly the case in Madison, as assessed property values in the city rose by 6.7% this year (we are part of that, as our assessment went up by nearly $20,000 this year).
Verona is an even better example of this, as it approved of a $181.5 million referendum last year to build a new high school and make other improvements, but Verona homeowners won't take much of hit because the new tax base includes hundreds of millions of dollars of property from Epic Systems that are being taken off of a TIF district and going onto the tax rolls.
However, most school districts in Wisconsin do not have an Epic Systems in their area. Delavan-Darien in Walworth County is one of those more typical districts, but the district where Scott Walker graduated from high school is still getting a general aid cut of more than $477,000 for next year. That district has recently closed an elementary school and laid off 20% of its teachers after a school referendum failed in April. This development led to a recent online ad by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kelda Roys, featuring one of the teacher laid off from the Delavan-Darien district.
The failures in Delavan-Darien illustrates the cynicism behind the decisions of Walker and WisGOP to make his well-publicized increases in school funding come in the form of per-pupil aids, which have had the effect of benefitting districts that are already in good shape due to increasing enrollments while hurting the many districts in the state with stagnant or declining enrollment (read: well-to-do well-white people who value education).
This leads to public education continuing to have a two tiers of quality, where children and communities in smaller and more improverished communities are in danger of getting a second-class education due to the difference in resources. That doesn't sound like the Wisconsin Way to me, but the "have and have nots" results sure sounds like a lot of other things that have happened during the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, doesn't it?