The Hillsboro school district has received $118,546 in sparsity aid for the 2014-15 school year from the State Department of Public Instruction.
Hillsboro is one of 133 districts receiving the aid, which is intended to help address rural schools’ needs.
To receive funding, a district must have fewer than 725 students, less than 10 students per square mile, and more than 20 percent of its student population eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. Qualifying districts are eligible for $300 in categorical aid per student.
Sparsity aid, originally created as part of the 2007-09 budget, was a recommendation of the State Superintendent’s Rural Schools Advisory Council.
“Public schools form the backbone of Wisconsin communities and that is especially true for our rural areas,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “Yet, rural schools face financial pressure from issues like declining enrollment, high numbers of economically disadvantaged students, and unstable property values that disproportionally affect their school funding.”
The 2013-15 budget set the total allocation for sparsity aid at $13.54 million. Districts that met the criteria to be aided under the program were eligible for $17.091 million in funding.
Due to the fact that allocated aid did not cover that amount, the Sept. 15 sparsity aid payments to school districts will be prorated at roughly 78.7 percent, or $236 per student. The per student amount is slightly less than the 2013-14 level of $237 per student (proration of 79.1 percent), causing a small loss in funding for districts that received sparsity aid last year and again qualified in 2014-15. This year’s aid will reach 56,970 students, which represents roughly 6.6 percent of total public school enrollment.