Big Reductions for Schools Revealed

7/2/11 – Wisconsin school districts got the news they were bracing for Friday morning – the amount of state aid they’ll lose under the new state budget. All but 14 of the 424 districts in the Badger State will lose at least some money. They’ll share about four-point-two billion dollars in general aid from Madison – down eight-point-four percent from last year. Most districts in our area will lose between 4.9% and 10.1% from 2010-2011 school year and this coming school year. The Beaver Dam School District will see about $1.4-million less while the school system in Watertown is looking at a $2.3-million reduction. But officials in Milwaukee County and Racine schools say their reductions will be even bigger. That’s because more students will leave the public systems – and take their state aid with them – when they go to private schools this fall under the expansion of the state’s voucher program. There was talk at a recent Racine School Board meeting about doing whatever they could under the law to raise local property taxes to cover some of the loss. But Governor Scott Walker and fellow Republicans say that’s a no-no – and the idea is for people to pay less in total taxes, not more, to try-and-turn the state’s economy around. A U-W Madison analysis says up two-thirds of Wisconsin districts will have to cut their property taxes to comply with the law. To guarantee that local taxes won’t go up, Walker reduced the state school revenue limits by five-and-a-half percent on average. Residents who want to pay higher taxes can do so by getting local referendums approved.