For today’s Key Reads we take a peek into school finances and we celebrate the fact that LaCrosse’s new chancellor does not want us peeking at his home movies. Plus, a growing concern for our Agribusiness sector.

The preliminary estimates will be modified this fall, but the early figures show significant changes for many school districts.

Nearly 30% of Wisconsin public schools to get less in state money | The Center Square

Nearly a third of Wisconsin’s public schools are going to get less money from the state for the next school year.

The state’s Department of Public Instruction on Monday announced the general state aid estimates for July.

“Estimated general school aids for 2024-25 total $5.58 billion, representing an increase of 4.2% from 2023-24,” DPI stated. “Payments to districts will increase an estimated $234.3 million because of two factors: 1) an increase of $224.9 million per the state budget as passed by the Wisconsin State Legislature; and 2) the decrease in the required Milwaukee Public Schools funding for the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program due to statutory changes.”

Those changes are part of the shift away from using local Milwaukee money for the Parental Choice Program, and the move toward fully funding the choice program with state dollars.

Most of Wisconsin’s public schools should see more money from the state for the next school year. But many won’t.

“Of the state’s 421 school districts, 68.6% (289 districts) are currently estimated to receive more general aids than in 2023-24, while 29.5% of districts (124) are estimated to receive less; eight districts are estimated to have no change in aid,” DPI explained in a statement.

Sixty-four public schools in Wisconsin will see their state aid drop by the state-maximum 15% as part of Wisconsin’s hold harmless requirements.

Republicans across Wisconsin have been warning for months that their schools will be net-losers for the next school year.

Rep. Barb Dittrich said one school in her district, Oconomowoc Area Schools, will lose more than $500,000 because of MPS.

“There is an enormous ripple effect this scandal has on every one of the state’s students, ” Dittrich said in mid-June. “All students in the state must not be dragged down by the irresponsibility of adults who failed to file statutorily required reports and hide relevant information from voting taxpayers. If the educational bureaucracy wants to know why school choice is so popular in this state, they need only look in the mirror.”

DPI, in its statement Monday, warned local schools that Wisconsin’s state aid payments may change because of the ongoing problems at Milwaukee Public Schools.“The current estimate is based on the 2023-25 biennial budget and pupil count and budget data reported by school districts to the DPI. Due to previously reported delays in financial data reporting by Milwaukee Public Schools, the DPI anticipates greater than usual volatility in these estimates,” DPI explained. “Figures used in this estimate may change by a greater than usual amount for the certification of general school aids, which takes place by Oct. 15, 2024. The department therefore encourages caution when utilizing this estimate.”

Milwaukee’s hit will be more severe because they’ve been overpaid, previously. The media is generously calling it an accounting error.

State aid to Milwaukee Public Schools down $81 million |TMJ4

We’re getting a look at new numbers from the state that show how much Milwaukee Public Schools will lose next year because it was overpaid in the previous year.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), Milwaukee Public Schools misreported its costs to the state last year by about $90 million, and that error will cost the district for the coming school year.

…According to DPI and MPS, the district will get $42.6 million less in general aid for the coming school year.

That will re-pay the state for last year’s overpayment. In addition, DPI corrected last year’s reporting error.

That lowered the district’s payments by another $40 million.

Wisconsin’s Porno Chancellor (TM pending) has officially been replaced.

James Beeby ushers in a new era at UW-La Crosse | WKBT

James Beeby officially took the helm as the 11th Chancellor of the university on Monday.

The 54-year-old comes to La Crosse from Keene State College in New Hampshire, where he served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

As we feared, the two weeks of steady rain is negatively impacting farmers across much of the state.

USDA: Wisconsin crop progress and condition | Dairyland Sentinel

Wisconsin had 3.3 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending June 30, 2024, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Wet fields throughout much of the state continue to hinder fieldwork.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 48 percent adequate and 52 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 59 percent adequate and 41 percent surplus.

Farmers are in a constant battle with the elements. We tip our hats to their perseverance and their ingenuity.

As we make our shopping lists for the long Holiday Weekend, let us never forget that food isn’t manufactured in the back of the store. Wisconsin is home to some of the hardest working, dedicated farmers in the world. They help feed the world, and they’re a part of what makes our home state great.

We wish them more ideal conditions for the rest of the growing season and harvest.

We’ll be back with more Key Reads tomorrow.