Elcho school gets a few dollars to offset taxes|
|The Elcho school district didn’t exactly receive a windfall from the state’s just-approved influx of state aid, touted as a way to reduce local property taxes.|
At the district’s annual meeting Wednesday. Administrator Bill Fisher said that, due to the way the state aid formula calculates how the money will be distributed, Elcho stands to receive a grand total of $5—the bill with Lincoln on the front—in additional state dollars.
That won’t put a crimp in the school’s levy increase of 10.72 percent, a not-unexpected number due to the passages of a four-year, $400,000 spending referendum in April.
The annual meeting drew only a handful of people to the school heater, a far cry from the 1970s and early 1980s when the sessions were packed by taxpayers. In recent years, with the authority of taxpayers and the school board gelded by state cost controls, the meetings have become little more than information sessions for district patrons.
“I wish we could get more people at these meetings, asking hard questions, because that makes us a better board and a better school district,” Fisher said.
Fisher gave a 50-minute presentation looking at budget highlights along with district accomplishments and goals.
“Even being a small rural school, we can offer as many opportunities for our students as anyone else,” he stressed, noting areas such as increased use of technology, newly-adopted math, language arts and reading curriculums at the various levels; and the implementation of the Middle School concept.
He also touched on the symbiotic relationship between the Elcho and White Lake school districts, which share everything from an administrator and teaching staffs to a high school football team, the Wolverines.
That’s saving both districts dollars, he said, and increasing student opportunities.
“That is one of the benefits of the unique relationship that exists between the two districts,” he said. “It ends up being a win-win for two small school districts.”
The district does face challenges, both in the areas of student achievement, with fairly lackluster scores on the just-released report cards, and facility needs, which in the next decade will include lighting and plumbing renovations, parking lot and sidewalk repairs, new windows and carpeting and a big-ticket project to replace the 63 and 48-year-old boilers. The district elementary school is also getting long in the tooth, built in 1938.
The administrator said all these areas can be addressed systematically through good planning, and the board is beginning the process by establishing a community committee to look at long range needs.
In the financial portion of his report, Fisher noted that the Fund 10, which makes up the lion’s share of spending, will reach $4.89 million, a 1.96 percent increase, while state aid payments will decline 16 percent, to $36,551. Valuations are also continuing to drop districtwide, this year by a modest .38 percent.
“When property values decrease, the tax rate goes up,” he said.
Total budget, including debt service, is a shade under $6 million, a 4 percent increase.
Those factors, along with the $400,000 in spending approved by voters to support existing programs, will push the levy to $4.5 million and the tax rate to $6.10 per $1,000 of equalized valuation.
In comparison, the Antigo school district is preparing to approve a levy that will require a tax rate of $8.54. At White Lake, which adopted the budget and levy Tuesday, the rate is anticipated to reach $11.48 per $1,000.
In addition to the budget review, the annual meeting agenda included a mix of other business that must be decided by voters. Those areas included:
—setting the annual salaries of board members, and authorizing the payment of their expenses.
—allowing the district to pay for any legal proceedings in which it may become involved.
—authorizing the board to furnish student textbooks, school lunch and breakfast, and purchase or sell real estate and old or surplus property.
—and allowing the district to borrow when necessary for school operations.
Elcho School District Administrator Bill Fisher discusses the budget and tax levy at the annual meeting Wednesday. The graph offers a breakdown of how the money will be spent.
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