Our focus now turns to the April operating referendum.
The issue of school funding in Wisconsin was highlighted in the Sunday edition of the Wisconsin State Journal. Next to the headline was a statement that hits our situation on the head:
“As enrollment shrinks, costs rise and state aid declines, officials face tough budget choices to balance the interest of students and taxpayers.”
The revenue limit formula is a real tough issue for the Green Lake School District. Even with a no-sunset referendum in 2001, which added $600,000 to the budget annually, the amount of increase allowed by the state formula still does not match increased costs.
In fact, over the past four years, the district has made more than $600,000 in cuts. This is why in 2001 the community was told that the referendum might only last five years and it would be facing another one.
The district did make it more than five years, and the School Board looked at doing a referendum for two consecutive years, and with some changes due to declining enrollment calculations and budget reductions, the district was able to string out the time period.
A common misperception that I have heard is that the district is spending wildly with no control.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The district budget is brought to the public every year at the annual meeting, and the public can weigh in on it and vote to approve it or not.
Due to concerns about the budget and discussion that were taking place at board meetings, I suggested to the board that it reinstate its Finance Committee.
The committee has been meeting and reviewing purchases and the budget on an almost monthly basis. The committee meetings are public meetings, and the agendas are posted.
The School Board is making the tough budget choices, as mentioned in the article heading, and has been responsible with spending.
The commitment to making sure that students have an excellent education has been foremost in the School Board decisions, and deserve the trust of the community.