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Sparsity Aid Program

Overview

Statute Reference

Chapter 115.436

NEW: 2017 Wisconsin Act 141 (signed into law on March 12, 2018) modifies the Sparsity Aid program in one way.

1. Sparsity Aid increases from $300 per member to $400 per member, beginning with aid payments for the 2018-19 year (distributed in September 2018).  An additional $6,454,600 was added to the appropriation under section 20.255(2)(ae) to account for the Sparsity Aid payment increase. (There are no changes to eligibility criteria.)  

 

Funding

Established in 2007 Wisconsin Act 20 (2007-09 Biennial Budget). Appropriations under s.20.255(2)(ae):

  • 2017-18 - $18,496,200
  • 2016-17 - $17,674,000
  • 2015-16 - $17,674,000
  • 2014-15 - $13,453,300
  • 2013-14 - $13,453,300
  • 2012-13 - $13,453,300
  • 2011-12 - $13,453,300
  • 2010-11 - $14,948,100
  • 2009-10 - $3,517,700
  • 2008-09 - $3,644,600

Eligibility

Aid is provided to districts meeting the following criteria:

  • school district membership is no more than 745 members; and
  • district membership is less than 10 members per square mile of the district’s geographic area.

2015 Wisconsin Act 55 (2015-17 Biennial Budget) eliminated a third criteria requiring that at least 20 percent of the school district’s membership qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch (FRL) under the National School Lunch Program. School districts automatically receive this aid so no claim is necessary.

Aid Computation

The initial legislation provided for two levels of aid per member ($150 or $300) based on the district's concentration of free or reduced-price lunch students as a percent of its membership. In 2009-10, the aid level was revised to be a flat $300 per member.  In 2018-19, the aid level was raised to $400 per member.

Any district that qualified for aid in one year but did not qualify the following year due to the 745 membership limit would receive 50 percent of its prior year award in the year in which it became ineligible for aid. These payments are also subject to proration if the appropriation is insufficient to make the full amount of the payments. This provision was added as part of 2017 Wisconsin Act 59 which was signed into law on September 21, 2017.

The computation uses prior-year membership data - aid for 2017-18 uses district membership from the 2016-17 school year. Based on district aid eligibility and the appropriation, it has been necessary to prorate Sparsity Aid in recent years. 

Payment Details

3rd Monday in September.

WUFAR Coding

Sparsity Aid revenues are coded to Fund 10, Source 694.

For questions about this information, contact Brian Pahnke (608) 267-9124, Erin Fath (608) 266-2804