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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Madison school district to receive nearly 15% drop in general aid for 2023-24 school year

Officials cited increasing property values and a declining student body for the aid reduction.

The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) will receive a nearly15% reduction in general state aid for the 2023-24 school year compared to the previous year.

According to data released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Friday, MMSD received approximately $37.9 million in general aid for the 2023-24 school year. The general aid total fell by 14.4% from the $44.3 million received in the 2022-23 school year.

The general aid largely consists of equalization aid, which is financial assistance to public school districts for any expenditure they deem necessary. The formula that determines how much equalization aid a school district receives is inversely proportional to the per-student property valuation, so more funds are distributed to districts with lower property values per student.

According to the DPI, the equalization aid formula was constructed with two objectives: disincentivizing educational programs from basing their revenue solely on local property taxes and promoting basic educational opportunity to all students regardless of the financial capacity of their district.

Madison’s increasing property values and the prospect of a declining student body ultimately contributed to the decline in the district’s state aid, according to Channel 3000.

MMSD has managed budget challenges with help of the pandemic aid and a 2020 referendum that increased funding, according to NBC15. However, the report indicated the 2023-24 school year to be the last year of utilizing both the federal aid and the operating budget from the referendum, putting the district under financial tension.

In May, former MMSD spokesperson Tim LeMonds told NBC15 the 2023-24 budget cycle was “among the most challenging for public education in our state’s history,” and the district already made some position cuts.

“We are already making those moves trying to prepare ourselves… the best that we can for the future,” LeMonds said. 

The school district’s preliminary budget approved by the Board of Education in June would cut 155 primarily teaching and educational assistant positions, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The Board of Education will vote to approve the final budget in late October. 

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