Last week we learned about the impact that 30 years of revenue caps have had on school district operational budgets. This week the focus will be on more recent developments in school funding.
Recently, district officials were hopeful that federal ESSER funds, which were authorized to help school districts deal with the additional expenses brought about because of the pandemic, could provide some relief for the district. However, the state Legislature, believing the federal funding would provide adequate help for Wisconsin school districts, froze per-pupil funding for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years.
Unfortunately for Hamilton, ESSER funds were not distributed uniformly among school districts. Hamilton was allocated a relatively minimal amount from ESSER funds, while other districts received significantly more. Hamilton is receiving a double whammy with lack of additional state aid and less-than-anticipated federal funding to recoup COVID costs.
Today’s inflation is yet one more factor complicating an already dire financial situation for the district, creating a financial cliff that could soon have a dramatic impact on educational programming.
One solution that the Community Facilities Advisory Committee explored is an operational referendum which asks permission from voters to exceed the state-imposed revenue limit for the purpose of funding school operations. It is not a referendum to incur debt to complete facility projects, but for ongoing operational expenses.