This spring, people all across the state will head to the polls to vote on a new Supreme Court Justice, school board members, local government officials, and maybe even a school referendum. In recent years, many school districts have gone back to their respective communities to ask for additional funding. Mineral Point did this as recently as the fall of 2018. At that time, the hope was the referendum money would help the district navigate the next three years. Here we are, five years later, and will not be asking for additional money in April. We have used ESSER relief money, and the great fortune of additional grant money, to provide for maintaining several of our programs. The district also provided a lower salary increase than most of the surrounding schools. Most districts were able to offer a 4.7% increase in salaries last year. Mineral Point was able to pay only a 3% increase. There have also been additional cuts to help maintain a balanced budget.
Now, you cannot turn on the state news without hearing at least one story about the upcoming budget cycle. The state legislature creates a two-year budget that includes funding for school districts, and county, township, and city government bodies as well. In the last biennium budget, the funding for school districts went directly to the property owners in the form of tax relief. There was very limited, or no increase directly to school districts. While it may have been talked about as a large increase in school funding, none of that money was usable for schools to offset increased costs for food, fuel, electricity, paper products, and like every household, almost everything we use on a day-to-day basis. The most difficult piece of information that makes me wonder is that the state is now sitting on the biggest budget surplus ever. With over $7.5 billion in surplus, I hope the legislators can direct some of that money to fund multiple projects, including school districts. The Senator that represents our school district is Mr. Howard Marklein. He also sits on the Joint Finance Committee as a co-chair and helps write the next biennium budget. If you feel that districts need financial support, please reach out to him.
Mineral Point will not have an operating referendum on the April ballot in 2023 to maintain our programs, but 50 school districts in Wisconsin do (and 45 others asked for operational support in November 2022). Pointers may not be so fortunate in April of 2024. There is a great deal of pressure on our budget and it all depends on what the state legislators decide in Madison. Every part of the state and every level of government has needs that impact taxpayers. Roads need to be repaired, bridges replaced, and fire and ems support are all very important. If Mineral Point does not receive any additional financial support from the state, our only choice will be to ask our residents for additional money through a referendum. Trust me, this is not a position anyone wants to be in. We will continue to do our best and offer the best education a student can receive. That is why we are #PointerNation.