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Sparsity aid awarded to area schools

Sparsity aid was awarded in the 2014-15 school year to 133 school districts to help address the needs of rural schools.

In this area, districts awarded the aid are: Elmwood, $77,929; Plum City, $66,121; and Spring Valley, $169,081.

The total number of districts set to receive funding is identical to 2013-14, but four districts gained eligibility (Crivitz, Lakeland UHS, Necedah and Spring Valley) and four districts lost eligibility (Algoma, Oakfield, Stockbridge and Union Grove UHS).

Sparsity aid, originally created as part of the 2007-09 budget, was a recommendation of the State Superintendent’s Rural Schools Advisory Council. 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.

The 2013-15 budget set the total allocation for sparsity aid at $13.54 million. Districts meeting the criteria to be aided under the program were eligible for $17.091 million in funding. Due to the fact 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 receiving 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.