The Mineral Point School Board certified the 2017-18 levy at its meeting Monday night. (Scroll past the video for more article text)

The equalized property value for the school district increased 4.70% to $321,869,233.  

Using the known equalized property values and equalized aid, the district has the ability to levy the remaining revenue up to the revenue cap in place.  Therefore, last year’s levy of $4,001,299 increases in 2017-18 to $4,075,304 representing an overall percent increase of 1.85%.  

The mill rate adjusts accordingly and will drop from 12.43 to 12.09 (a decrease of 0.34 mills).

The Board unanimously approved the levy as presented.

Further documentation regarding the levy can be found here:

(Go to the one hour, 25 minute, 15 second mark)

Other business:

— Mineral Point receives in 2017-18 $4,321,892 in state equalization aid as compared to 2016-17 state aid of $4,397,474, or an overall decrease of $-75,582 or -1.72%.  District revenues were again capped.  The loss in state aid is thereby transferred to the district tax levy to offset the $-75,582 decrease. The Milwaukee Charter Program deduction reduced Mineral Point’s equalization aid by $-63,038.00.  

Total expenditures are budgeted to exceed total revenues by $139,912.  

Superintendent Francois said adjustments to the budget will be made throughout the year to end the fiscal year balanced.

Board members Lisa Hay and Larry Steffes expressed concern with relying on uncertainties that the budget will be balanced at the end of the year, stating they would like to see a balanced budget before voting on it.

Francois remained confident the budget could be balanced by the school year’s end, given a few possible scenarios. He mentioned not all accounts spend down to the last penny, and when those get pooled together, often total approximately $100,000. Also, in recent history, the district has budgeted for more than it has spent on legal fees and workers’ compensation.

If there is still a deficit, the district would use fund balance to offset it. He reminded the board that not since the last referendum has the district had to resort to digging into fund balance.

The Budget Development Timeline was reviewed:

January: Identify opportunities for savings, as well as additional needs.

March: Teachers are solicited for requests for the following year. These are sent to their building principals to prioritize. Those numbers are then sent to the district bookkeeper to develop a preliminary budget.

Board member Julie Stephenson stated she would like to see board goals for the following year established ahead of the budget so administrators can approve teacher budgets to meet those goals.

Board member Kelly Gundlach agreed and added she would like to see better justification of why teachers feel items are needed in their budgets. It would be her hope that questions during the monthly bills payable could be downsized because the board would already understand why items were important to the curriculum.

“A budget is what you propose going into a fiscal year,” said Francois. “Every year we’ve worked together with a known amount of revenue. This year, we were already into the school year doing the work before we learned what our state aid would be.”

He also informed the board that the Department of Public Instruction requires an approved budget by November 1. Given the conversation surrounding concerns of approving a budget with a deficit, he stated he would recommend approving the budget tonight, with amendments to be brought back later to balance the budget. Trying to balance the budget yet at Monday night’s meeting, or even at a special meeting prior to November 1 next week, would be a rushed scenario. “It’s not like all the money can come out of just one account,” said Francois.

The Board voted 4-2 to approve the budget as presented, but to have amendments brought back at the November meeting to balance the budget. In addition, the board will continue to closely monitor the fiscal state of the district.

Voting yes were Stephenson, Basting, Dolphin, and Gundlach. Voting no were Hay and Steffes. Busch was absent. (Go to the 24 minute, 45 second mark).

A budget comparison from this year to last can be found here:

— Following an incident last week where two elementary children were unaccounted for following recess, procedures were put in place to enhance student accountability.  A report of what happened and prevention strategies deployed was shared with the board. (Go to the one hour, 30 minute, 45 second mark)

— The Board voted to move the elementary physical education staff hire to executive session, where no action was taken. (Go to the one hour, 53 minute, 45 second mark)

— The Board voted for unanimous approval of grant expenditure in the amount of $27,560 for 44 certified staff to attend the Professional Learning Community Institute July 18-20, 2018 in Madison. (Go to the one hour, 55 minute mark)

— Heard a food service report from Taher employees Lisa Corraro and Nancy Smith. (This discussion begins the meeting video).

— The next regularly scheduled board meeting is set for Monday, November 13 at 6:30 pm.