By Ben Rodgers
ASHWAUBENON – The sharp rise in the amount of general aid the Ashwaubenon School District will receive from the state was expected, according to a district official.
The district saw a jump of more than 15 percent for the 2017-18 school year up to $6.8 million compared to roughly $5.7 million the prior year.
“We do what we can to try and stabilize our mill rates but there are certain factors beyond our control,” said Keith Lucius, assistant superintendent of schools.
Items that affected state aid contributions this school year include:
• A settlement with Georgia Pacific regarding containiments on the football, baseball, practice fields and parts of a nearby park for $1 million.
• A $250,000 savings in health insurance costs.
• A $150,000 savings in utilities costs.
Those additions to the bottom line contribute to the formula that determines the amount of funding from the state.
“We’re not going to spend any more because we are getting more,” Lucius said. “It’s going to reduce our property tax levy because that’s the way the revenue limit works. There’s no alternative.”
The main vehicle for funding school districts is equalization aid. Simply put school districts with higher property tax values receive less state aid. Those with lower property tax values receive more.
“In Ashwaubenon, because we’re property rich, a lower percentage of our expenditures are covered by state aid and a higher percentage is covered through property taxes,” Lucius said.
The numbers recently released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is the state’s portion of the funding equation.
While the ultimate goal for any district is a stabilized property tax mill rate, all factors have combined this year to lower the cost to taxpayers in Ashwaubenon.
“We anticipate the total tax levy will be down this year,” Lucius said. “We are still calculating that amount, but we do project a decrease.”