March 19, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 65

Walker's budget not kind to Hurley School District

HURLEY — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2013-’14 school budget isn’t favorable to the Hurley School District, according to district administrator Chris Patritto.

In fact, Patritto told the school board Monday that the district faces a $222,000 deficit for the next school year, worst case scenario, under the state budget, which will be approved in July.

The proposed state budget favors voucher programs for poorly performing big city schools and private schools, but doesn’t do anything for Hurley, said Patritto, who likened the situation to getting tied to a back of a truck and dragged down a dirt road.

The problem with the state budget is there’s no increase in the revenue limit for Hurley and what the district would gain in state aid with an increase of $150 or $200 per pupil, it would lose in other funding categories, he said.

Patritto estimated the district’s revenue budget for next year at $6.25 million. What’s not received in state aid is charged to district taxpayers.

“It’s a no-win scenario,” he said, explaining that if the district were to gain 20 students, it would have money taken away from its present declining enrollment exemption, which provides a 75 percent credit for students lost in a given year.

He estimated a loss of 20 students next year.

On the other hand, Patritto said, “If you gain kids, you lose money” because of the budget formula.

Meanwhile, the state’s private schools stand to gain increases in state aid.

Patritto acknowledged that the proposed $222,000 budget deficit is not as bad as the mammoth deficit of around $700,000 that Hurley faced several years ago.

He said he’ll have a plan next month for balancing next year’s budget.