Local school districts wondering how much money they'll have with state budget not approved

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- As lawmakers continue to work on the state budget, local school districts are left wondering how much money they'll have to work with.

The Eau Claire Area School District says it’s been difficult to plan for this year's budget not knowing how much state aid they'll be receiving. As the 2017-18 school year approaches, the district has been crunching numbers based off of the previous year’s funding estimates.

“We’re usually putting the final touches on right now, but we usually have more information than we have right now,” said Abby Johnson, the executive director of business services for the district. “Our numbers are based on the 16-17 estimates because we don't have a state budget yet.”

Based off of last year’s numbers, Johnson said they will be receiving a potential increase in state funding.

“We know at a minimum we'd have an additional $300,000. If the proposals go through, where they talk about adding $200 or $204 per student, that’s a couple of million dollars for us, so there’s a big swing between $300,000 and a couple of million.”

Unsure right now about how much money they're going to have, Johnson said they’re putting some projects on hold. Those projects include technology upgrades for students and equipment items.

“It’s very stressful because it’s kind of a game. You’re trying to figure out where our numbers are going to land, what are the requests, what are the needs, so we try very hard to budget for what we really think is going to happen.”

Johnson says they're being very conservative as they continue to put the final touches on their budget.

They will present their budget to the school board at the end of September and are looking to formally adopt it in October, once they receive verification of state aid on October 15th.

The Chippewa Falls School District has been taking a different approach than the Eau Claire Area School District. They say they've been planning their budget off of the governor's proposal of a $649 million increase for K-12 education. Therefore, if the governor's proposal is not passed, it will mean reductions in their plan; the biggest impact hitting staffing, with hiring and filling positions.

The Joint Finance Committee is expected to vote on school funding proposals next week, with the state budget anticipated to be approved in early September.

The governor's office says that they anticipate the committee to pass the governor's proposal on Monday. If passed, it will be the largest level of funding for K-12 education in Wisconsin history.

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