Two local school districts to lose thousands of Federal Impact Aid

After steady cuts in state funding for schools in Wisconsin over the past couple of years, two local districts are preparing for even more reductions.

This time, it’s a result of the widespread federal spending cuts that kicked in at the beginning of the month.

Both the Sparta and Tomah School Districts receive Impact Aid from the federal government.

It’s a program designed to help schools who lose funding from property taxes because they have families who live on federal land like military bases or Native American reservations.

Now those funds are on the chopping block.

“I tend to be a pretty optimistic person,” said Tomah District Administrator Cindy Zahrte.

It’s a character quality that’s being put to the test.


“The last couple of years have been tough,” said Zahrte.

Zahrte said the news of more funding cuts, this time from the federal government is hard to swallow.

The district receives an average of $170,000 of Federal Impact Aid a year.

Funding for the program will soon be reduced as part of the automatic federal spending cuts.

While it’s just a piece of the district’s $31 million budget, the cuts will still hurt.

“Every penny counts and we have been making cuts here and there and we’re feeling like we’re at a point where we’re at bare bones. Every dollar is accounted for. There isn’t a lot of flexibility and you’re going to start seeing our facilities not looking as nice because we will not be able to keep maintenance up as much,” said Zahrte.

The Sparta School District is also set to lose some of its Federal Impact Aid funding.

The district administrator, John Hendricks said they receive an average $17,000 a year, but the real impact will come from the combination of all the federal education cuts.

“I would anticipate that with all of our programs that will be impacted, that we receive federal funding for, we could easily see the loss of $140,000 to $150,000. We get to the point where we have to look through every line item and we’re reducing a $100 here and $1,000 there all to make up for large amounts of money,” said Hendricks.

According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Department of Education estimates about $60 million could be cut from Impact Aid this school year.

The Associated Press also reports 5 percent of funding from all U.S. Department of Education programs is being cut.