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Governor Walker traveled the state this week to announce his support for legislation that will increase Sparsity Aid for rural schools.

Rural Schools face unique challenges as a result of demographics and geography. The increase for districts would help rural schools to improve how they serve their students and families. Additionally, the newly-created second tier for Sparsity Aid for districts will provide more stability for districts with low pupil counts.

New Sparsity Aid Legislation

  • Senator Howard Marklein and Representative Jeff Mursau recently introduced legislation that would increase Sparsity Aid in the second year of the biennium.
    • This bill provides rural schools with support that they desperately need,” said Senator Marklein. “I am proud to champion this bill and look forward to working with my colleagues to move it through the legislative process.
    • This increase in Sparsity Aid will positively impact rural school districts across Wisconsin,” said Representative Mursau. “Our rural districts face significant challenges and I’m thankful we have an opportunity to provide these districts additional state support.
  • The bill includes the second year of the Governor’s budget proposal for Sparsity Aid, providing an increase from $300 per pupil to $400 per pupil for districts that currently qualify for Sparsity Aid and creating a second tier of Sparsity Aid by providing $100 per pupil for districts with 746-1000 pupils that are rural enough to qualify for Sparsity.
  • The increased aid for rural schools would be in addition to the budget’s historic $11.5 billion investment in K-12 funding, increased support for High-Cost Transportation Aid in rural areas, and expanded efforts to provide broadband access statewide.

Governor Walker’s Proposed Education Budget

  • The Governor’s budget proposed increasing Sparsity Aid by increasing the payment for districts with 1-745 pupils to $400 and creating a second tier of sparsity aid with $100 per pupil for rural districts with 746-1000 pupils.
  • The legislation being proposed by Senator Marklein and Representative Mursau would provide the increase proposed in the Governor’s budget proposal for the 2018-19 school year, an increased investment of $9.7 million for the 2018-19 school year in rural schools across Wisconsin.

2017-19 Education Budget

The budget signed by Governor Walker on September 21, 2017 includes the following provisions for education:

  • Wisconsin’s total state investment in K-12 education is $11.5 billion – an all-time high.
  • In total, K-12 schools will receive a $636 million increase in general and categorical aids which is the largest in a decade.
  • Per-pupil state aid will increase by over $500 million, providing a $200 per student increase in the first year and an additional $204 increase per student in the second year of the budget.

It also includes the following provisions to help Wisconsin’s rural schools face unique challenges:

  • The budget increases High-Cost Transportation Aid by $10.4 million
  • The governor’s budget expands broadband access allow districts to apply for $21 million additional broadband infrastructure grants and allow this funding to be used for mobile hot spots for buses or for students to take home.