Janesville will receive an estimated $1.1 million less in general school aid in 2019-20 under early estimates released Monday by the state Department of Public Instruction.
This is the second consecutive year that Janesville’s estimated general aid dropped. The district is estimated to get about $64.65 million next year, about 1.7% less than the approximately $65.76 million it received this year.
However, it’s difficult to say what that $1.1 million number means, especially at this point, said Keith Pennington, the Janesville School District’s chief financial officer.
“This is very early in the process, and this is one of many numbers that will be coming to us in the future,” Pennington wrote in an email to The Gazette.
For one thing, Gov. Tony Evers has not signed the Legislature’s proposed state budget.
“There’s been a lot of talk about a $200-per-student increase,” Pennington wrote. “Our (budget) worksheet only showed a $13 amount.”
The key will be the signed budget, he wrote.
About 59% of Wisconsin’s schools will receive more general aid than they did last year, according to DPI estimates.
Locally, the Beloit School District is slated to see its general aid rise by 5.8%. Beloit Turner will get an estimated 8.3% more aid, and Whitewater will receive 13.2% more.
However, many districts could get less. Big Foot, Lake Geneva, Walworth and Williams Bay could see double-digit decreases in general aid if the DPI’s estimates are accurate.
Statewide, $4.74 billion has been earmarked for general school aid, a $83.2 million—or 1.8%—increase over last school year, according to a DPI news release.
General aid is determined by a complex formula that considers property values, enrollment and spending.
Some school districts, such as Middleton and Verona, get little general aid because of their wealthy tax bases.
In Janesville, general aid makes up a little more than 80 percent of all the state aid the district gets, Pennington said.
It’s difficult to determine how changes in general aid, also known as equalization aid, will affect an overall budget, Pennington has said in past interviews.
Wisconsin school districts operate under state-imposed revenue limits, which are adjusted annually. If one category of income increases for a school district, other income might have to decrease to keep the district below its revenue limit.
If aid goes down, tax levies could go up.
The actual aid amount each district will receive won’t be announced officially until Oct. 15. On that date, the DPI will certify amounts for the 2019-20 general aid based on audited data and finalized state budget numbers, according to the release.
Janesville’s total amount of aid could change “hundreds of thousands of dollars” either way, Pennington said.