The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released its preliminary state aid estimates for 2015-16 Wednesday.

The Mineral Point Unified School District is projected to see a state aid decrease of 6.84%, or $331,411 compared to general aid last year.

When comparing Mineral Point to its surrounding districts, and those in Iowa County, the following numbers are available:

Barneveld: Up 2.77%, or $70,282

Belmont: Down 3.05%, or $67,493

Dodgeville: Up 5.86%, or $376,950

Highland: Down 2.31%, or $53,498

Iowa-Grant: Up 3%, or $166,741

Pecatonica: Up 8.67%, or $202,193

More than half of the state’s public school districts are in the same boat as Mineral Point and will receive less general funding, according to these estimates.

Of the state’s 424 districts, 55% will receive less money.

Even though the state budget is not finalized, the DPI is required by law to issue these preliminary numbers July 1.

Using the most recent estimates, the biennial budget maintains the same level of general school aid ($4.476 billion) as was appropriated in the 2014-15 fiscal year. Actual aid payments are estimated at $4.346 billion because of statutory reductions for the Milwaukee voucher program and for independent 2R charter schools.

With school aid being held at the same level as the prior year, other factors such as property valuation, enrollment, and shared costs in the general equalization aid formula impact whether the aid estimate for a district increases or decreases.

State wide, the district that is set to see the largest decrease in funding is Spooner, dropping 29.49%, or $240,985.

The largest increase belongs to the Turtle Lake district at 71.17%, or $255,859.

“Less state aid simply transfers the burden to local property taxpayers forcing their hand to pay for the state’s shortfall,” said Mineral Point Superintendent Dr. Luke Francois. “To compound the matter, none of the increases to property taxes is passed on to schools because, for the first time in history, the school district receives zero dollars in new revenue to operate schools.  With everything costing more this year than last year for property owners and schools, this is truly a lose-lose state budget for the Mineral Point community.”

On October 15, the DPI will certify general state aid amounts for 2015-16 based on audited 2014-15 data. Estimated general aid to districts may change, although Francois doesn’t expect much change in Mineral Point by the time the School Board certifies the levy in the fall.

It is important to note the July 1 estimates do not include per pupil categorical aid, which will be based on student membership from a three year rolling average of the 2015-16, 2014-15, and 2013-14 school years and their third Friday in September count. This aid will be paid in March 2016. The current budget appropriates $127 million for that aid, which is $150 per pupil, the same amount as last year.

The Mineral Point School Board passed a preliminary budget at its June 8 meeting and Francois said these July 1 estimates are in line with the projections from that meeting.

(Compiled by Joelle Doye, Mineral Point Unified School District Communications Director)