Monday, July 1, 2013

School aid shockers- 2013 version

The DPI came out with their initial estimates of state aids for school districts for 2013 today (you can check your district here). As usual, there were some places that got huge decreases in K-12 aid from the state, and will face major increases in property taxes or massive cuts coming in the next year.

The Wisconsin State Journal's Matthew DeFour gives a good rundown on the district facing the largest cut in state aid- Madison's.
The Madison School District stands to lose $8.8 million in general state aid this fall -- the maximum amount allowed under state law -- primarily because spending grew faster than in other districts, according to the Department of Public Instruction.

District officials had anticipated the reduction when coming up with a preliminary budget for 2013-14, which calls for a 6.8 percent property tax increase on the December tax bill. Lower state aid generally means the ability to raise higher property taxes under state revenue limits.

State law caps the amount a district can lose at about 15 percent of the previous year's aid. Madison's total aid is projected to be $49.6 million next year.
And a big reason Madison's "spending increased"? It added 4-year-old kindergarten last year, which requires more teachers per student compared to what you'd have in a high school, and it's in stark contrast to last year, when the MMSD got a big bump in state aid, and kept its taxes down as a result.
Madison's aid amount is about the same as it was in 2010-11. The district received a $15 million boost in aid last year mostly because 4-year-old kindergarten enrollment added about 2,000 students.

The Madison School Board taxed the maximum amount allowed last year, resulting in a 1.75 percent property tax increase. That amount was low compared to previous years because of the state aid increase. The additional funds allowed the district to spend more on building maintenance and a plan to raise low-income and minority student achievement.
Madison was far from the only place to take a school aid hit. Despite a 1.11% increase in overall state aid, 54% of the state's districts will lose money compared to last year, and approximately a fifth will lose 10% or more in state aid vs. what they got last year. Here are some of the other larger districts looking at big property tax increases for next year.

State school aid losses, 2013-2014
Kettle Moraine -$1,401,334 -15.07%
Menomonee Falls -$1,250,590 -15.07%
Ashwaubenon -$1,176,394 -15.07%
Waterford Graded -$956,085 -13.94%
Grafton $657,312 -11.76%
Whitewater $748,731 -10.50%
Cedarburg $725,255 -8.09%
La Crosse -$2,497,015 -8.01%
Monona Grove -$796,354 -7.54%
Merrill Area $1,249,711 -6.72%
Milwaukee -$1,407,778 -0.27%

When you compare with the rundown of last year's school aid losers, and special congrats are in order to the pro-Walker communities of Kettle Moraine, Menomonee Falls, Ashwaubenon, Grafton and Cedarburg, as you are BACK-TO-BACK LOSERS in Walker school budgets! Hope it' paying off for you.

Another sidelight of the school aid numbers are the huge amounts of small rural districts facing aid losses. They're a large amount of the districts getting the max loss of 15%, and many of these places don't have a lot of valuable parcels that'll make up the difference. For example, I'm betting my Aunt and Uncle who have a place in Vilas County are going to be less than pleased when they see their tax bill next year, given the decline the Lakeland District is facing. And a lot of these communities also backed Walker in June 2012. You wanted these aid cuts and property tax increases, so now you get them. Enjoy!

Yes, there are some winners as well, including a very intriguing district to end up Number 1. Remember, 1.11% is the overall state aid increase, so if you're under that, you aren't keeping up with the rest of the state.

State school aid increases, 2013-2014
Beloit +$1,928,367 +3.37%
Green Bay Area +$4,919,267 +3.85%
Sheboygan +$3,001,627 +4.50%
Eau Claire +$3,032,393 +5.48%
Waukesha +$3,078,988 +6.75%
Racine +$11,286,945 +9.23% (most in the state)
West Allis +$3,858,111 +9.76%
Sun Prairie +$3,820,528 +10.98%
Hudson +$3,040,935 +12.92%
Verona +$3,275,018 +16.18%
Oconomowoc $1,825,249 +35.54%

You'll notice a lot of districts that were originally part of the limited-voucher plan that was in Walker's original budget (and later expanded to potentially go statewide). It's almost like they don't want people to remember big property tax increases resulting from vouchers when they go to the polls in November 2014. Almost...

The Oconomowoc figure should raise some eyebrows, as not only is it a Baggerific Walkershaw County exurb (voted over 70% for Walker last year), but it's also the hometown of Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and her multiple-voting husband, Rep. Joel Kleefisch. But DeFour says it's really a reflection of Cooney's property values going down the tubes more than GOP favoritism.
Oconomowoc is projected to receive a 35 percent increase in aid, the largest statewide.

Like Madison, Oconomowoc has high property values per student, but that amount dropped 7.1 percent last year, compared to a statewide average of 3.4 percent. Madison's property value per student dropped 2.4 percent. Also, Oconomowoc's spending per student grew 2 percent, below the state average.
In addition, Oconomowoc had their school aids drop for the 2012-2013 school year by more than 15%, so they're up less than a million compared to where they were in 2011, so this becomes easier to digest as a Madisonian. I also have to smirk at the loss in land values in Oconomowoc over the last year- you think denigrating teachers and cutting school aids would make properties less desirable in far-out suburbs? NO WAAAAYY!!!

So while Walker is making photo-op appearances at camapaign contributors while signing his budget, many of Wisconsin's communities will be seeing their property taxes go way up as a result of that budget, and the bad results of the prior one. You know the WisGOPs are going to try to cynically pass off these inevitable tax hikes as the fault of local government over the next 16 months, instead of admitting that the hikes are in no small because of their decision to pass Koo-Koo tax cuts instead of adequately use state tax dollars to fund public schools. So it's our job to show these facts and make sure the average citizen knows the shell game that Walker and company are trying to play.

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