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State aid estimates vary for North Shore school districts

Most districts down or near neutral

Aug. 1, 2012

School districts throughout the North Shore are looking at an average 3 percent decrease in state aid in the coming 2012-2013 school year, according to estimates published by the state Department of Public Instruction in early July.

The aid estimates range from a decrease of approximately 15 percent in the Nicolet district, to a middle-ground decrease of approximately 6 percent in the Mequon-Thiensville district, to an approximate 31 percent increase in Shorewood's estimated aid.

Largest decreases

Though Nicolet is at the top of the list in terms of percentage decrease, the district receives a relatively small amount of state aid compared to its overall budget, making the reduction an approximate $244,000. Director of Business Services Jeff Dellutri said the district has come to expect such reductions annually and has built its preliminary 2012-2013 budget accordingly.

"We've already balanced it," said Dellutri.

The Brown Deer School District is looking at an approximate 15 percent, $800,000 reduction in state aid, according to the DPI estimates.

That loss will be made up through savings in the maintenance budget and a concentrated effort over the last five years on physical plant management, said Director of Finance Emily Koczela. Certain employee groups will be required to increase their contribution to the Wisconsin Retirement System, and Koczela will look for additional savings where she can find them.

"I'm going to look for a little bit in a lot of places," Koczela said.

An approximate 14 percent decrease in state aid is precipitating an increase in the Glendale-River Hills levy of about 2.1 percent.

"(The increase) is a direct result of the fact that we're losing more in state aid," Superintendent Larry Smalley said at a recent School Board meeting.

Middle ground

Rounding out the middle of the estimates are the Mequon-Thiensville district at an approximate 6 percent reduction, Maple Dale-Indian Hill at an approximate 2.27 percent decrease, and Fox Point-Bayside estimated to lose less than a percent in state aid.

The Mequon-Thiensville district recently approved a decreased levy of approximately 0.73 percent at its annual meeting, though the property tax increases slightly as a result of decreased property values in the area.

Maple-Dale Indian Hill, with an eye toward reduced state aid, recently passed a levy increase of slightly more than 1 percent, and Fox-Point Bayside is considering an operational referendum to offset decreases in its state mandated revenue limit.

Increases, large and small

The Whitefish Bay School District is looking at an approximate 2 percent increase in state aid in the coming year, driven largely by increasing enrollment.

Shorewood School District, as a result of an error on the part of the village assessor in 2011 that misrepresented the property values outside of tax incremental financing districts to the state Department of Revenue, is looking at an approximate 31 percent increase in state aid in the coming year.

"We expected some increase because of (increasing) enrollment," said Director of Business Services Mark Boehlke, "but the bulk of that is from the error that was made."

Though the increase in state aid would usually lead to a decrease in the tax levy, Boehlke said the district will keep the levy flat and use the additional funds for revenue limit exempt energy conservation projects around the district.

DPI STATE AID ESTIMATES

District 2012-13 Aid 2011-12 Aid $ Change Percent Change
Nicolet $1,366,496 $1,610,459 -243,963 -15.15
Brown Deer $4,467,227 $5,264,349 -797,122 -15.14
Glendale-River Hills $313,509 $366,436 -52,927 -14.44
Mequon-Thiensville $2,162,376 $2,304,562 -142,186 -6.17
Maple-Dale Indian Hill $437,222 $447,369 -10,147 -2.27
Fox Point-Bayside $1,564,264 $1,577,336 -13,072 -0.83
Whitefish Bay $9,826,251 $9,618,634 207,617 2.16
Shorewood $4,759,539 $3,631,021 1,128,518 31.08

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