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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Coleman School Tax Levy Down, Open Enrollment Up

At the Annual Meeting for Coleman School District held Monday, Sept. 19, the public approved a tentative budget that is to be supported by a property tax levy that is 26 cents per $1,000 lower than this year, not slightly higher, as incorrectly reported in a Peshtigo Times article published Wednesday, Sept. 28.

The rate for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years was $9.49 per $1,000, while the rate for the tentatively approved 2016-2017 budget is $9.23 per $1,000.

The total local property tax levy for 2016-2017 is $4,355,380, up just $44,270 from last year,

A favorable balance of students coming in versus students going out under Open Enrollment accounts for part of the tax levy decrease. Administrator Doug Polomis reported that 74 students came into the district this year through Open Enrollment, and only 45 chose to attend school elsewhere.

This is the first time since Open Enrollment began that there has been such a significantly higher number more of students who transferred into Coleman than transferred out.

This resulted in a significant boost to the Coleman budget, an additiona $214,000 of revenue, Polomis said. He explained that schools pay reimbursement to the receiving district for all students who attend another school through Open Enrollment, and get reimbursement from the home district for those who come in.

In additional to the financial benefit, Polomis feels the fact that parents choose to send their children to school in Coleman rather than the district in which they live is a high compliment to the Coleman educational system and staff.

A 10-year history of the district's tax was included in the informational packet for the annual meeting. It shows increases most years, but none in the last three years. The levy in 2007-2008 was $2,904,188, supported by a $6.52 per $,000 tax rate. By the 2010-2011 school year the tax rate had jumped to $8.48 per $1,000. There were slight drops each of the next two years, and then increases to $8.97 for 2013-2014 and $9.49 for 2015-2015. The rate remained at $9.49 for last year, and then dropped to the tentative $9.23 rate for 2016-2017.

The budget approved at the annual meeting is expected to be formally adopted by the School Board at its next regular meeting, which is set for Monday, Oct. 24, after all the numbers from the state are in. The board is also expected to certify the tax levy at that time. There are no changes anticipated from the levy and rate presented at the annual meeting.

Much of the state aid formula that pays a large portion of school district expenses is based on the number of students attending. Like districts all across the northern third of Wisconsin, overall enrollment at Coleman has been dropping since the 1989-1990 school year when nearly 1,000 students were enrolled. Enrollment for 2014-2015, the last year for which data was presented, was down to approximately 650.

Meanwhile, operating costs continued to increase, partly due to inflation. The total Fund 10 budget, in which operating expenses are tracked, was $7,624,885 for 2015-2016, and will be $7,684,944 for the current school year if the proposed budget is adopted by the board without changes at its meeting on Monday, Oct. 24.


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