State aid figures for area school districts are out

Student head counts taken September 2013 and January 2014 are the biggest determinants of state aid for this school year

The School Districts of La Crosse and Onalaska got very different news when presented with numbers for state aid for this school year

La Crosse’s state aid is up from last year by more than $1.5 million, which is more than a 5 percent increase.

The Onalaska School district’s state aid dropped by more than $200,000, which is a nearly 2 percent decrease from last year.

The Onalaska finance director says that number won’t cut it.

“The amount of new money we get from the state right now is really not enough for our needs and so there is a lot of scrimping going on, but it’s a budget we can live,” Larry Dalton the School District of Onalaska’s director of finance said.

La Crosse’s superintendent said the increase in aid in his district is thanks in large part to constantly increasing enrollment rates.

“Given the fact that we were expecting a reduction of 14 to maybe 35 students we feel fortunate that we are on the positive side of the ledger for two consecutive years now,” Randy Nelson, La Crosse’s superintendent, said.

While Onalaska has lower state aid this year they did see an increase of 41 students in a September head count. That figure averaged with enrollment numbers next January will impact the 2015-16 state aid levels.

However, the most recent head count will impact the school district immediately, as it will help determine the current budget.

“Only the September one counts for the revenue limit calculation; the revenue limit calculation controls about 90 percent of our revenue,” Dalton said.

Dalton said state aid was lowered significantly when Act 10 was passed a few years back, but points out that the school system has adapted.

“That’s why so many districts, most districts, have gone to operating referendums like we did in February and we are so thankful that our community approved that,” Dalton said.

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