Falls prepares for 15 percent decrease in state aid

District projects levy to drop slightly, too

July 24, 2012

Menomonee Falls - The Department of Public Instruction is estimating a 15 percent decrease in state aid for the Menomonee Falls School District, which is exactly what was planned for by the district.

DPI is estimating Falls will receive $8,292,236, a 15.14 percent decrease in general aid for the 2012-2013 school year. The aid estimates released on July 1 are based on what districts budgeted for in the previous school year, said Business Manager Jeff Gross.

A 15 percent decrease in state aid is what the district has been planning for in the preliminary budget for months, which was again discussed at a School Board meeting Monday night. The 2012-2013 preliminary budget will be voted on during the budget hearing and annual meeting on Sept. 10.

Menomonee Falls has faced large cuts over the last six years, losing an average of $1.6 million per year in equalized aid.

For the 2011-2012 school year, state funding was cut 10 percent and in 2010-2011 and in 2009-2010, the district lost 15 percent of its aid each year, Gross said.

"Even with the loss, we've been able to manage it and the overall total levy is still down compared to last year," he said. "It's not been easy with the decrease in state funding to balance it with the tax levy, but I think we've been able to manage it well over the years."

Superintendent Patricia Greco said state aid is less impactful in Menomonee Falls because it is a relatively low aided district. That being said, when overall aid is considered over the last few years, the decreases in state funding have been "significantly impactful," she said.

"The aid amount goes less from year to year and going into this year, we're not counting on it as much and we're positioned well to go unto the fall so we don't have a significant impact on taxpayers," Greco said.

Despite consistent losses over the years, the district will be able to decrease the total levy by 0.5 percent. The preliminary budget states that the total rate will decrease from $0.05 per $1,000 of property value.

"We are positioned really well and we have the context of stable enrollment, strong community, strong board and a strong leadership team," Greco said. "A lot of hard work goes into this process and it's a direct benefit to the community we serve."

Expenditures in the district are down more than 2 percent. The transition to a self-funded insurance plan and a fund balance that is at 16 percent of operating expenditures has also helped the district make up for its losses in aid.

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