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School budget presented, then meeting gets exciting
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An exhaustive 40-minute budget presentation answered most questions of the audience and led to easy approval of a 2014-15 spending plan by the Antigo school board Tuesday.

Things got a bit more dicey when it came to a revised co-curricular code however, finally passed on a 7-2 vote after extensive audience comments and board discussion, with a promise that the issue will be reviewed on a regular basis.

Action came at the board’s regular August session—the final meeting before the start of the fall term next Tuesday—which stretched to the 2 1/2 hour mark.

Budget details

The main item of the evening was approval of the spending plan, which received unanimous backing from the nine-member panel.

Director of Business Services Mary Jo Filbrandt walked the board and audience, made up mostly of administrators and other school officials, through a comprehensive review, including a breakdown of general fund spending by various areas such as maintenance, operation and services.

“It’s a very detailed rendition of all the different areas where we spend money,” Filbrandt said.

Filbrandt also reviewed maintenance projects, highlighted by roof replacement at East, West, North and Mattoon elementary schools and a section of the high school. Crestwood Elementary School received asbestos abatement and new floor tile, North Elementary got new blacktop for the playground, and six high school rooms had carpet replaced with floor tile.

Dollars for the work included $400,000 earmarked from the district’s fund balance, which led to another update from the financial officer.

“Each district must consider what is important to them when determining their fund balance,” she said, stressing adequate funds must be reserved for cash flow and a mix of planned and unplanned expenses and investments.

An adequate fund balance also ensures the district will receive the best rates when borrowing, she added.

“We have to do what is best for our district,” she said.

The district’s June, 2015 fund balance is anticipated to be $5.3 million.

Long-term challenges do remain, she said.

“We’re still going to have deficits as we move into the future,” Filbrandt said, adding that the district will have to continually seek more efficient ways to operate.

The budget calls for general fund expenditures of $27.261 million, an increase of $441,261, or 3 percent. It will be financed locally 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 of 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.

Sixty percent of the district’s 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.

Co-curricular code

A revised co-curricular code months in the making won approval, but not before another round of comments from parents and board members and a promise that there will be a “continuing conversation” about the document.

The code stresses that participation in co-curricular activities is a privilege and that students will be “held to a high standard of academic achievement and personal behavior.”

The code details academic requirements, attendance, detention/discipline obligations, code of conduct and drug and alcohol violations, with an escalating series of penalties and consequences.

In the athletic area, first offense would bring a one-game suspension, and second offense up to a half-season suspension. Third offense would suspend eligibility for one full calendar year and fourth offense, eligibility for the remainder of the high school career.

For non-athletic activities, first offense would bring a one week/performance eligibility and second offense, a two performance suspension. Third would be a one-year suspension from eligibility and fourth, a suspension for the remainder of the high school career.

Several parents called the penalties and consequences “three strikes you’re out” or a “death penalty” and stressed that co-curriculars allow students who may otherwise be marginal a chance to succeed. They urged a series of tiered penalties and chances for reinstatement.

“There has to be a little bit of discretion and common sense used,” Mike Levis said, adding the goal should be to help the student learn and grow and “not just punish them.”

Board members noted that with the start of the fall season, some sort of code must be in place and stressed that revisions remain possible. The approval was retroactive to the start of the fall sports season.

Jim Schulz and Jeanne Long voted against the approval.

In a related matter, the board unanimously approved a new code on academic honesty: cheating and plagiarism.

It set definitions for both cheating and plagiarism and directed the administration to “develop reasonable consequences consistent with restorative justice practices and denying credit until the instance is properly resolved and the student’s own work may be evaluated.”

Other business

The remainder of the meeting focused on staffing matters.

Resignations, accepted with the stipulation that the staff members pay a financial penalty due to the lateness of the action, 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.

Hirings included:

—Kendall Strasser, high school math.

—Veronica Bolle, North elementary instructional interventionist.

—Meagan Geske, Mattoon Elementary special education teacher.

——Kristine Gabler, Middle School special education instructional assistant.

—Eileen Manusos, North Elementary special education instructional assistant.

—Carla Pyeatt, high school part-time special education instructional assistant.

—Amy Reichel, Middle School study hall supervisor.

—Barbara Brown, North Elementary library clerk.

—Lisa Benishek, high school kitchen coordinator.

—and Erica Fuller, Middle School dishwasher/server.

The board also received an update on staffing, with several positions remaining unfilled as the school year arrived.


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ANTIGO DAILY
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Mail to: Fred Berner
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