Reduced Impact Aid Funds May Have Negative Impact on Hayward Schools
The Hayward Community School District Board of Education held an Impact Aid hearing immediately after their regular monthly meeting held at the LCO Tribal Office on Monday, Dec. 18.
Hayward Schools Superintendent Craig Olson told the board and people in attendance there is a trend at the federal government level with less money being put into our local funds.
“A major reduction is happening in our impact aid and it’s having a negative impact on our school system,” Olson said. “We have nearly 30% Native American students.”
Olson explained Impact Aid as money the Hayward School District receives in lieu or in place of taxes the school doesn’t receive on federal property, which is non-taxable land the tribe owns and is held in trust by the federal government. The school district receives Impact Aid to cover those funds.
The Hayward School District received $680,730 for the 2016-17 school year, but has only received $202,984 for the current school year.
“If we didn’t get this aid, the District would have to tax for it in order to finance our educational program this school year,” Olson said. “This Impact Aid money goes into the general budget to provide all children with the same educational opportunities.”
Olson said if the aid received goes down $400,000 it would leave the general fund in bad shape. He explained it like if that many students left the district because the district bases its taxes on a little over $9,000 per student, but in this case, those students aren’t leaving, and enrollment at Hayward is actually going up.
“The number is dropping in how much we’re getting per student, the enrollment isn’t dropping,” Olson said. He also said the federal government is making it more difficult to apply and to get that aid money.
Olson explained how important it is that every parent of a Native American student turns in their Impact Aid applications they get at the start of the school year. He said these applications are what the federal government bases their count on and the Hayward District has 598 Native American students, and not 100% of them are being counted.
Dr. Harry Malcolm, a member of the school board, said we can’t make up for this money if the $400,000 is lost. He said the District would lose that money in the budget unless local taxes were raised above the revenue limit of $9,000 per student.
It was explained that some of this Impact Aid money may still come into the District in January or February, but they don’t know when or how much will come.
“We don’t know what we’re going to get. We try to guess and base our budget on that,” Malcolm said. “It’s usually part way through the school year before we get the funds.”
Malcolm said Hayward is below the state average on how much we can tax. A district can tax over $10,000 per student and Hayward is over $1,000 below that limit.
“The Impact Aid gives us extra funds to provide for our students,” Malcolm said.
Olson said we can go as far as our local economy will let us go.
LCO Vice Chairman Jason Schlender asked what can be done if the money is reduced from the federal government.
Olson said the first step would be a referendum to see if the community would cover the lost revenue, and if not, he said there would be cuts to programs and a reduction in services. “Our kids don’t deserve that,” Olson said.
If we continue to get less money and our enrollment keeps going up, then we have to look at something, Olson said.
School Board President Linda Plante said the Wisconsin Association of School Boards has been lobbying for the amount of Impact Aid money to be raised.