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Legislative Update

A look at some of the other school spending proposals in the governor’s budget plan

by | Feb 19, 2021 | Legislative Update Blog, State Budget | 0 comments

Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed $91 billion state budget includes a $1.6 billion boost in funding for preK-12 education. 

In a previous post, we examined some of the preK-12 funding highlights in the governor’s two-year spending plan. 

In this post, we detail some of the other elements of that plan not covered in that earlier post.

Rural Schools—Sparsity Aid

  • Increases Sparsity Aid funding by roughly $10 million in each year to fully fund estimated eligible grants at $400 per pupil for sparse districts (those with fewer than 10 students per square mile) with 745 or fewer students.
  • Provides Sparsity Aid grants of $100 per pupil for all districts with sparse student populations and at least 746 pupils.
  • Additionally, provides stopgap payments equal to 50 percent of the district’s prior year aid payment for one year to districts that no longer meet eligibility requirements.
  • Beginning in 2022-23, funding for the Sparsity Aid program would be switched from state general purpose revenues to revenues derived from the taxation of recreational marijuana sales.

Pupil Transportation Aid 

  • Increases reimbursement rates for pupils transported more than 12 miles from $365 to $375, and eliminates the proration of aid payments for summer and interim session transportation based on the number of days a student rides the bus.
  • Provides an additional $2 million in each year to fully fund expenditures eligible for high-cost pupil transportation aid and eliminates the $200,000 cap on total stopgap payments.

Aid for English Learner Students

  • Increases funding for English Learner (EL) programs (a/k/a Bilingual-Bicultural programs) by almost $9.75 million in 2021-22 to boost the reimbursement rate for eligible costs from 8.1 percent to 15 percent in the 2021-22 school year.
  • Additionally, provides almost $18.3 million in 2022-23 to expand the EL program for all English Learner students in school districts across the state. School districts and independent charter schools that serve at least one English Learner student would be eligible for minimum funding of $10,000 beginning in the 2022-23 school year. Each school district or independent charter school serving at least one, and up to 20, English Learners would receive this $10,000 amount and $500 for each additional English Learner served in the school district.
  • Creates a new $750,000 grant program in 2022-23 to help school districts and independent charter schools identify and help teachers and staff obtain licensure as a bilingual teacher or teacher of English as a second language. 

Supplemental Nutrition Aid

  • Creates a new sum sufficient categorical aid for the reimbursement of costs associated with meals served to students who are eligible for reduced-price meals and prohibits schools from charging a price for a meal to students eligible for a reduced-price meal. Aimed at eliminating so-called “meal shaming” the payment provided per meal would be equal to the difference in reimbursement between a free meal and a reduced-price meal.
  • Provides roughly $2.5 million in each year to fully fund reimbursements to school districts, private schools and tribal schools under the school breakfast program at $0.15 for each breakfast as required by current law.

Grants to Promote the Replacement of Race-Based Nicknames, Logos and Mascots

  • Provides $400,000 from tribal casino revenues to create a grant program to help school district officials pay to adopt a new nickname or logo for school merchandise, team uniforms and scoreboards, among other costs.
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