By Ben Rodgers
ASHWAUBENON – State equalization for the Ashwaubenon School District is estimated to dip slightly for the 2018-19 school year.
Numbers released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction show the district is estimated to receive approximately $6.72 million, down 1.18 percent from the $6.8 million it received last year.
“We’ve been considered property rich by the state for a long time, since this aid formula has been put in place,” said Keith Lucius, assistant superintendent of schools. “It’s not surprising or anything new, it’s something we’ve worked with. It’s the state’s way of helping areas that are not property rich so tax rates are comparable between districts.”
Because the ASD has higher property values than many other districts, the money it receives from the state is less than other districts with less property value because the ASD can make up some of the difference with the tax levy.
The property value per resident student in the ASD is $866,000.
“The village has done a great job and that’s why we are considered property rich,” Lucius said. “It brings jobs, it brings students, it brings a lot of things that help the community and help the district, but as property value goes up, we see our aid going down.”
Back in the 2006-07 school year, the district received approximately $14 million in equalization aid.
“If you look at the short- and long-term trend with aid, the last couple years our aid is up a little bit, but long-term we are down significantly,” Lucius said.
Because of this, the district has to look at other forms of revenue to keep the tax rate stable.
“We have another major source of state revenue and that’s related to open enrollment students,” Lucius said. “So in effect that’s equalization aid that would have been paid to other districts that we’re getting because we have the students and that’s 27 percent of our budget.”
The district has close to 2,200 resident students, which directly affect equalization aid and nearly 1,000 open enrollment students, which bring in another source of funding outside of equalization aid.
“It’s worked well to keep those seats full and keep our programs, and we’ve been able to weather the storm of declining enrollment and maintain the quality programs we’ve always had,” he said.
Lucius projects state aid will actually be lower when finalized in October at $6.2 million.
He projects the largest portion of the budget coming from the tax levy at $15.7 million and $9 million from open enrollment.
“We’re seeing that decline as we’re considered more property rich and state funding becomes tighter,” he said. “But as a district we’ve anticipated this and are able to maintain and reduce our mill rate over the last couple of years, and keeping our mill rate below state averages.”
The projected mill rate for the upcoming school year is $8.46 per $1,000 of home value, which is below last year’s state average of $9.79 per $1,000 of home value.
Lucius said he projects the tax rate to drop in the future as well.
“As we look forward we don’t see a large increase in tax levy or mill rates,” he said. “We’re also getting close to paying off all our long-term debt so at that point we expect we’ll see some mill rate declines.”
More information will be presented on Wednesday, June 11 at the school board’s annual meeting. More information is also available at ashwaubenon.k12.wi.us/.