CHIPPEWA VALLEY, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Public schools are funded through two main avenues, state aid and property taxes. Without those sources of funding, schools wouldn’t be able to pay their expenses. Executive Director of Business Services with the Eau Claire Area School District (ECASD), Abby Johnson, says, “We are about 52% funded by state aid and about 48% funded by our property taxes. And we’re about 50/50. Each district might be a little bit different, but we run pretty close to that 50/50.”
The amount of state aid school districts are getting next year was released on October 15th. ECASD is receiving 2% more than last year, totaling nearly $2 million. It’s something staff with the district say is helpful but won’t make a huge difference offsetting costs. Johnson explains, “While we got a $2 million increase in state aid expenses are going up more than 2 million. So, it helps, but it certainly doesn’t match the cost of everything else that’s going up for sure.”
Not all districts got more state aid though. The Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District is actually receiving less than last year but some district officials aren’t concerned with the decrease. Chad Trowbridge with the Chippewa Falls School District (CFSD) says, “It’s not a panic at all. We’ll have the same amount of funding. It’s just the sources have a different balance to them. So, you know, if we get more aid than we project, that’s a victory for our property taxpayers. If we end up with less aid, we have to levy more.”
Trowbridge says he thinks federal funding from the pandemic had an effect on those amounts, “The state doesn’t pay aid on federal funding. So, when you have an influx of federal funds, it’s going to it’s going to change the way the state distributes money to schools. We were allowed to use our federal funding to kind of keep our programs whole and balance our budgets. Well, if we’re spending dollars that are federally funded versus state or locally funded, we’re not going to get an aid boost because of that.”
Trowbridge says he expects the district to get more aid in the coming years as that federal funding runs out.
The Altoona school District is receiving 15% more state aid than last year. The School District of La Crosse is receiving around 1.6% more in state funds as well, totaling nearly $540 thousand.