Wisconsin State Equalization Aid is general financial assistance to public school districts for use in funding a broad range of school district operational expenditures. The purposes for which general aid can be used are not restricted as they would be in a categorical aid program; categorical aids must be used for a specific purpose or category of program, whereas general aid may be used for any expenditure the district deems necessary.
Equalization Aid Formula
The Equalization Aid formula distributes financial assistance to school districts to achieve two basic policy goals:
- to reduce the reliance upon the local property tax as the sole source of revenue for educational programs; and
- to guarantee that a basic educational opportunity is available to all pupils regardless of the local fiscal capacity of the district in which they reside.
For these reasons, Equalization Aid is intended to make up the differences between the yield from a district’s actual tax base and the state benchmark "guaranteed tax base." Simply stated, there is an inverse relationship between Equalization Aid and local per-pupil property valuations; those districts with low per-pupil property valuations receive a larger share of their costs reimbursed through the equalization formula than districts with high per-pupil property valuations.
The following links discuss the basics of the Equalization Aid formula:
- Equalization Aid Presentation (WASB 2018 Convention)
- Equalization Aid Formula - a detailed, algebraic explanation of the formula
- Conceptualization - a conceptual formula explanation
- Informational Paper #24, State Aid to School Districts - a detailed narrative of the Equalization Aid formula, pages 6-13, written by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
2020-21 Equalization Aid Information
The section contains links to district-specific worksheets that display the 2020-21 October 15 Equalization Aid Certification for each individual district. Use the pulldown menu to locate the desired district and the data will populate in the spreadsheet.
October 15, 2020 Certification Worksheets
This is the Equalization Aid computation using the methodology specified in statute. Also included here are the computational details of the other three General Aids programs, should the district qualify.
October 15, 2020 Percentage Method Worksheets
This is the Equalization Aid computation using the "percentage" method. Although this is not the method prescribed in statute, it very closely approximates the actual computation and is very useful for pedagogical or projection purposes (in most cases, aid amounts only by a few dollars due to rounding differences).
- October 15, 2020 Equalization Aid Computation – Percentage Method - Algebraic Format
- October 15, 2020 Equalization Aid Computation – Percentage Method - Bar Graphs
October 15, 2020 District Formula Position Worksheets
The following Excel graphs were developed to provide a quick visual snapshot of a district's general position in the Equalization Aid formula. Two district variables, shared cost per member and value per member, are plotted in the graphs below. Further, the state-guaranteed value per member and cost ceiling amounts are superimposed onto the district data. By observing the position of district variables in relation to the state variables, users can determine the general level of state support provided to the district by the Equalization Aid formula (positive aid, negative aid, etc.).
Note: Plots are based on the type of school district, K-12, K-8 and UHS (Union High School).
Prior Year Worksheets
- School Financial Services (SFS) Production Worksheets (access to prior-year aid worksheets)
Annual Aid Payment Process
By October 15 of each year, Equalization Aids for the current fiscal year are computed with the most accurate data available from the prior fiscal year Annual Report, September and January Membership Reports and equalized property valuations as certified by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue for the prior calendar year. Resulting aid amounts--modified by the prior year final aid eligibility adjustments--are paid to districts during the current fiscal year.
In June, final current year aid eligibility is computed using audited district information. Differences in computed aid amounts between October and June become the final aid eligibility adjustments and are applied to the September payment in the following fiscal year.
- Equalization Aid Listings Printed in Basic Facts, Section F.
- Executable Worksheets - Microsoft Excel spreadsheets containing pre-written formulas so users can run their own computations.
- Explaining Equalization Aid Change Over Time - Longitudinal formula data so users can see trends and explain changes.
- General Aid - An explanation of General Aid that includes links to Microsoft Excel files containing individual data elements used in the Equalization Aid calculation (shared cost, membership, value, etc.).
- Estimating Equalization Aid - Ideas to assist districts in developing their own estimation of Equalization Aid.