by Mitch Wainwright
For all school districts throughout the state, October is the time to finalize the budget and set the tax levy. The Mineral Point Unified School District will have a second meeting in October to finalize our budget. With so much uncertainty, it was very difficult to plan for this school year. With businesses closing their doors due to the virus, tax collections deadlines were pushed later in the calendar year. In many of the meetings I attended online, school districts were being told to expect either no increase or a reduction in state aid on a per-pupil basis. In June, the school board approved a preliminary budget that was balanced and included a surplus that would offset a reduction of $50 per pupil. This was the number superintendents were given as a possible starting point. It was even suggested that we prepare for an even greater reduction.
As we get closer to the October date to certify the levy, we have learned the state tax collections have come in higher than expected — not as high as the original forecast, but higher than expected during the economic slowdown everyone felt in the spring. The virus has had long-lasting effects, not only on the health and well-being of people, but also on budgets.
When schools were closed by the Governor, the district made purchases for protective equipment, cleaning, and disinfecting products. During the summer, additional equipment and devices were purchased in preparation for opening school this fall. UV light disinfecting equipment, hand sanitizer, and dispensers, plexiglass dividers, and disinfecting wipes were among other items purchased to provide as clean an environment as possible. Some of these purchases have been submitted to FEMA for possible reimbursement. If all of our purchases qualify, we would receive around 87.5% reimbursement, but to date, there have not been any funds approved and paid for by the federal or state government. This means that these items had to come out of the district’s regular budget.
Even after trying to be as prepared as we possibly can, I am happy to say that we will present a balanced budget for approval. If all projections from the state hold, it is also a budget that could see the mill rate come down when compared to the previous school year.
As always, it is great to work in a place that values education as much as Pointer Nation does.