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Hillsboro to receive $150K in sparsity aid
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The Hillsboro school district will receive $150,900 in sparsity aid for the upcoming 2015-16 school year to support its programs, the state Department of Public Instruction announced Aug. 10.

Hillsboro and 136 other small rural districts will receive a payment of $300 per student.

Other area districts receiving sparsity aid and the amounts they will receive from the state include: La Farge, $69,900; Royall, $186,600; Wonewoc-Center, $111,900;

“The necessity of providing quality instructional and educational services to small numbers of students presents a fiscal challenge to our rural school districts,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “This aid supports these schools, which are so often the backbone of their community.”

Most of the districts that are eligible for aid for the 2015-16 school year also received sparsity aid last year. Six public school districts gained eligibility based on 2014-15 enrollment of no more than 725 students and fewer than 10 students per square mile: Barneveld, Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah, Erin, Mineral Point, Oakfield, and Stockbridge. Two districts lost eligibility for aid that they received last year: Crivitz and Spring Valley.

Sparsity aid, originally created as part of the 2007-09 budget, was a recommendation of the State Superintendent’s Rural Schools Advisory Council. In each of the previous years, the budgeted appropriation was less than eligibility so districts received a prorated per pupil payment.

The 2015-17 budget provided $17.32 million per year for sparsity aid, which fully funds the program for the 2015-16 school year at $300 per student. Evers requested full funding for sparsity aid in his proposed 2015-17 education budget. Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature kept that request in the final budget.

“I am pleased that the Legislature and governor have targeted fiscal relief to rural Wisconsin schools,” Evers noted. “Fully funding sparsity aid is an important first step toward keeping these communities strong. I continue to work with my Rural Schools Advisory Council to seek out interested partners throughout Wisconsin and to pursue ways that we can help support our rural schools and the communities they serve.”

DPI calculated 2015-16 school year sparsity aid using 2014-15 membership of 57,728 students in the eligible districts. Sparsity aid will be paid Sept. 21 to each district’s general fund.