School budget is topic of discussion|
Taxpayers in the Antigo Unified School District will be able to ask questions and receive accurate and detailed information about the 2014-15 school budget, a document topping $27.26 million, when the board of education convenes Tuesday.
The budget hearing will begin a bit earlier than usual, at 6:30 p.m. in the second floor lecture hall at the high school. Action by the nine-member board will follow. Since Antigo is a unified, not common school district, no public vote at an annual meeting is required.
Director of Business Services Mary Jo Filbrandt has prepared a fact-filled 62-page budget booklet that will be available for public distribution at the meeting or in advance at the administrative office on Dorr Street. It can also be accessed on the districtís website, www.antigo.k12.wi.us.
The budget booklet covered everything from action plans for the individual elementary facilities, middle and high schools; highlights of grant programs, enrollment projections, debt service, staff, and facilities and maintenance. It is a comprehensive document.
But at its heart, it remains a financial statement of how the district will spend the money entrusted by taxpayers and received through state and categorical aids and various other programs.
According to Filbrandt, the budget calls for general fund expenditures of $27.261 million, an increase of $441,261, or 3 percent.
It will be funded by a levy of $9.429 million, which represents a 4 percent, or $361,478, increase.
Assuming no increase, or perhaps even a modest drop, in equalized valuations, Filbrandt is predicting a tax rate of $8.87 per $1,000 if equalized valuation, a 3.86 percent increase.
That means that the owner of a $100,000 home can expect a bill for local school purposes of $887, a $33 increase from this year. Taxpayers are reminded that the school represents only a portion of the overall bill they will receive in December. Levies for the state, city, county and technical college district must also be added.
The budget includes $640,000 for maintenance projects, including $400,000 allocated from the fund balance; $150,000 for technology improvements; and staffing changes including an additional high school Spanish/English teacher, overload sections at the high school, and a half-time elementary principal to allow for a full-time curriculum director.
There are also allocations for professional development; continued curriculum replacement; and a staff salary increase.
Savings include a 3 percent decrease in health insurance costs, equivalent to $110,000; replacement of retirees and longtime instructors with employees at the lower end of the salary schedule, $250,000; and replacing T-1 lines at the rural schools with wireless connectivity, $40,000.
Filbrandt said that this yearís spending package was balanced, without the significant cuts required in previous years, due to several factors. The state increased the districtís revenue cap by $75 per student and categorical aids by $75 per pupil, easing the funding crunch. That allowed the district to add several items previously cut back into the budget, including some maintenance and technology needs.
The district also saved over $250,000 after 18 veteran teachers retired, often being replaced by new teachers at the lower end of the salary schedule.
But while those categorical aids will increase, the state also cut the districtís general aid by $155,000, about 1 percent, putting a bit more pressure on the local levy, Filbrandt said.
Sixty percent of the districtís revenue comes from state sources, with 32 percent from local sources such as the property tax levy, Federal sources account for 4.5 percent, payments from other districts, 1 percent, and other sources, .2 percent. The $400,000 the district is allocating from its fund balance amounts to 1.8 percent of expenditures.
Salaries make up for 48.5 percent of expenditures, with benefits adding 26 percent. Purchased services, including transportation and maintenance, account for 19 percent. Non-capital objects, including general instructional materials and textbooks, make up 3.7 percent of the budget. The remaining 3 percent of the budget is split between capital objects such as instructional and computer equipment and miscellaneous expenses.
While the budget will occupy the lionís share of the evening, there are other items on the agenda as well.
The board will once again attempt to sell the 2013-14 student-built house currently resting on pilings behind the high school. Interest has been slack for the home and a previous bidder backed out on the deal earlier this summer.
It will also take action on bids for materials for this yearís house project. A flurry of resignations and hirings will round out the agenda.
The resignations include Jennifer Peterson, special education at North Elementary; Mindy VanGalder, special education teacher at Mattoon Elementary; Daryl Brodziski, health/physical education teacher at the high school; and Kristine Sladek, science/biology teacher at the high school.
The board is expected to fill positions for a high school math teacher; instructional interventionist at North; special education teacher at Mattoon; two full-time and one part-time special education instructional assistants; study hall supervisor at the Middle School; library clerk at North; kitchen coordinator at the high school; and dishwasher/server at the Middle School.
Following the open meeting, the board will reconvene in closed session to discuss administrative positions.
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