By Ben Rodgers
HOWARD – The Howard-Suamico School District is staying the course in terms of general aid allocations from the state.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction recently released the total amounts each district receives in general aid.
For the 2017-18 school year the district will receive just shy of $34 million from the state.
In 2016-17 that number was closer to $33.25 million. The total increase is 2.2 percent.
“We’re not going to receive any additional revenue over the year. The total revenue limit is just a sum of the state aid and what we levy locally,” said Matt Spets, assistant superintendent of operations. “So that being said, if our aid goes up like it did that means our property taxpayers in our district will receive a little bit of breathing room in their property taxes.”
The main vehicle in funding schools is equalization aid. It’s designed so a district with lower property tax values will receive more in state aid, while districts with higher property tax values will receive less.
Howard-Suamico is a district with lower property tax values, so it relies more on state aid.
“Howard-Suamico is essentially an underfunded district,” Spets said. “We spoke about that quite a bit recently. The new state budget does not change that at all. In fact the one revision that was going to help us close that gap in revenue a little bit was vetoed.
“So with that being said, locally what we’re working on is a community task force,” he said. “We have a group of business and community leaders working together to provide some guidance to our board.”
In April more than 70 percent of voters rejected a referendum that would have allowed the district to exceed its revenue cap by more than $4 million a year.
“(The task force is) working on some possible solutions to the underfunded reality we are,” Spets said. “That might look like another operational referendum this April. That’s what we’re working on now and discovering.”
While it’s still early, the task force did recommend that any possible future referendums by non-recurring, meaning
it would expire after a set amount of time and be brought up for election again if needed.
The failed referendum in April had no limit, meaning it would have not expired.