Tax Rate Down, Fund Balance Up For Wausaukee School District
Wausaukee School Board and the two members of the public present for the school district's annual meeting and budget hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 24 heard the good news that the tax rate is again going down, and the end of the year fund balance is going up.
After a summary report on the proposed budget was presented by Business Manager Kelly Stumbris, those present unanimously approved the tax levy of $5,292,939, down 1.59 percent from last year. Tax rate to support the budget is $8.31 per $1,000 of equalized value, down 2.82 percent from last year's $8.55 per $1,000. The drop was possible despite the fact that equalized aid is down nearly $30,000 from a year ago.
Former Board President Dave Kipp, one of the two residents present for the meeting, complimented Stumbris for an excellent budget presentation. He noted that years have gone by and the tax rate is still 8 cents per $1,000 lower than it was before approval of the referendum that allowed the board to raise the levy above legal limits and keep the school district from being dissolved years ago.
Russ Koster, the other resident on hand, mentioned rumors that Wausaukee's partnership with NWTC is going to end. High School Principal Jared Deschane assured him that is far from the case, "our partnership is very strong," and enrollment in their Northwoods Academy classes held in partnership with NWTC continues to go up. There recently was a large influx of students into the nursing assistant program, and enrollment in the auto repair and other Northwoods Academy classes is good, Deschane said. He and Koster were both disappointed that there were not enough interested students to hold the proposed entrepreneur class, but Deschane said it will be offered again next year, when a different set of students may want to enroll.
Report by Board Treasurer Sandy Wojcik shows the beginning General Fund balance of $5,296,854 had grown to $5,710,468 by the closing of the fiscal year on July 1, 2017. The Food Service fund had a zero balance at the start of the 2016-2017 fiscal year and a $6,486 balance by the end.
The non-expendable trust started at $80,424 and ended at $87,557. Revenues for the year were $10,133 and expenses were $3,000.
The community service fund started with $22,690 and ended with $21,995. Revenues were $104,521 and expenditures were$105,217.
Koster asked if the board is continuing to send representatives to various towns in the district and was told they are. District Administrator Bob Berndt said their meeting in Silver Cliff had a great turnout, with at least 25 residents there. One of the board members commented it's great to go to the communities when you're not asking for money.
The next visit is planned to the Amberg Town Board meeting in December.
Kipp asked if the district's new day care center was self sufficient. He was told it was not, "but we were at budget." Most, but not all, of the families that use it are Wausaukee residents. Kipp noted one of the reasons for providing the day care service was that many of these children will most likely come to Wausaukee under Open Enrollment when they get ready for regular classes because their parents will have come to see Wausaukee as convenient place to drop them of.
Kipp, who was board president for nine years before resigning a year or so ago, said he does not miss being on the board except for the camaraderie. "This board should be complimented on everything they do, Kipp declared. "The administration too is doing a great job," he added.
In regular business of the annual meeting Koster suggested a slight increase in board salaries, but eventually they were left as they were, at $1,600 per year for the board president and vice president, and $1,500 for the treasurer and all other board members.
Before making the motion to keep them as they were Kipp asked if any board members had asked for a raise, and Berndt said they had not. Motion to leave the salaries unchanged was made by Board President Mary Marquis, seconded by Kipp and unanimously approved. Marquis had been elected to chair the annual meeting.
Mileage reimbursement was left at 30 cents per mile, and board members are to be compensated for that and other reimbursable expenses when traveling on District business.
Textbooks will again be free except for penalties for misuse. The federal government is not forcing an increase in food prices this year, so hot lunch, milk and breakfast rates will be unchanged.
Marquis assured those present that there is no intention of buying any, but authorization for the board to purchase land for school purposes is a regular agenda item at the annual meeting and it was again unanimously approved. The board was also authorized to provide for legal services, and obtain a short term loan if necessary for meeting immediate expenses of the district.
In his message for the meeting, Berndt commented that community involvement in local educational issues has been and continues to be the cornerstone of public education. He urged parents to be involved, and assure that their children receive the best possible education.
Recent stories, opinions and photos