- Governor Scott Walker's budget cut $749 million in aid to public schools in the state last year.
Now in year two, the new funding formula is hitting the school districts in Northwoods, like Phillips, harder than other parts of Wisconsin.
"The Legislature had indicated that they really wanted to create an environment where it was either equal or that there was more winners than losers. That just doesn't seem to be the case," Phillips Superintendent Wally Leipart said.
Across Wisconsin, overall state aid this year is actually up compared to last year's spending.
But only one Northwoods school district will see an increase in aid.
Rhinelander's funding was cut by more than $700,000.
"There's districts our size within numbers of students of each other that their state aid has been bumped up," Rhinelander School Board President Ron Counter said. "I think the entire system is out of whack."
That puts strain on both educational quality and long term budgeting of many districts.
"It seems like every time we put together a plan that's sustainable, our revenue is decreased even greater," Leipart said. "That's where the frustration comes in."
Having state aid slashed by nearly half a million dollars is a major challenge for districts like Phillips. Some other districts in the Northwoods are getting their Wisconsin aid cut as well, but since they're property rich, it's not really a concern.
Districts with high property values don't rely as much on state aid, so cuts don't hurt as much.
Three Lakes, for example, will see its funding from the state cut by 15 percent.
But it's doing well enough financially that it's taking the unusual step of suggesting its levy be decreased, meaning lower property taxes for residents.
Northland Pines isn't too worried, either - their aid will cut by 15 percent. But Superintendent Mike Richie said since they don't get much from the state to begin with, they won't feel the pinch.
For districts like Phillips, however, the concern is very real.
The district's so-far above-average academic performance is on the line.
"That's what we're concerned about," Leipart said. "Are we going to be able to continue to the services necessary to reach the responsibilities that we have for our kids in our community?"