Budgets and buses in focus at annual meeting
Cadott School Board
By Julia Wolf
District voters gathered in the Cadott High School auditorium for an annual meeting, to approve a budget for the 2019-20 school year, Oct. 21.
Residents of the district were presented with three options during the meeting. Option 1 was proposed by the district, with a tax of $4,702,448 and a mill rate of 12.01, with the tax levy decreasing by about $30,000, because of additional state aid.
Option 2 held the tax steady from the 2018-19 budget, for $4,733,101 and a mill rate of 12.09.
Option 3 asked for a tax of $4,897,426 and a mill rate of 12.51, which would levy to the revenue limit.
The mill rate for the 2018-19 school year, was 12.87. However, the amount of tax people see, will depend on their property value and the mill rate, so a decrease in the mill rate will not necessarily mean a decrease in taxes.
Kathy VanderMolen, district resident, asked if voters could present and vote on other budget options. Rod Tegels, school board president, confirmed other options could be considered.
Sue Shakal, director of finance and human resources for the school, gave a brief summary of the projected fund balances in the 2019-20 budget, working on Option 1. Shakal said Fund 10, the general fund, is expected to see an ending balance slightly higher than the beginning fund balance, because of state aid.
Fund 27, special education, must always end the year with a $0 balance, explained Shakal, while pointing out the projected revenue and expenditure of $2,064,750.
“Of the revenue and expenditures that you see there, about $1.4 million of that comes out of Fund 10, out of our general fund, that we have to transfer, because we don’t get enough aid to cover the expenses there,” said Shakal.
Shakal also pointed out Fund 46, the capital projects fund, was expected to see a $20,000 contribution again this year.
“That has grown substantially over the past couple years,” said Shakal.
In June 2020, the district can begin using the balance in the fund to complete capital improvement projects.
The expenditures for all funds for the 2019-20 school year, are expected to be $13,886,104, which is a 6.3 percent increase from last year.
Tegels explained the board is challenging Jenny Starck, superintendent, to find $400,000 worth of efficiencies in the budget, while still increasing student achievement.
Tegels also gave a president’s report during the meeting. He noted they sold the school district buses for $528,000, with the money to go toward capital improvements.
District voters voted in favor of budget Option 2, with 12 in favor and nine opposed.
Following the annual meeting, the school board held a special levy meeting to approve Option 2.
“Currently, we’re on track with our capital maintenance projects,” said Tegels, noting the district has replaced the elementary school boilers, the roof over the commons and small gym in the high school, the roof on the school forest building and replaced nine univents in the high school.
Tegals also noted the district received some grants to help with the cost of camera and radio upgrades, and installing film on all entry ways. He also said the district saved over $160,000, by reducing some contracts with CESA and renegotiating other contracts. VanderMolen asked if funds from the sale of the buses are included in the 2019-20 budget.
“Some of those are slated for capital improvement projects this year, and going forward,” said Tegels.
VanderMolen also asked how much the district saved by going with Kobussen Buses for transportation needs and when the next negotiation process will begin.
Starck said the savings were about $108,000 from the 2017-18 school year to the 2018-19 school year. She said the district is on the second year of a five-year contract with Kobussen, though the district can renegotiate or cancel the contract within a summer window each year.
After the contract is up, the district will bid out the contract, much like they did for the sale of the buses. If the contract is set to be renegotiated or opened for bids, it will be displayed on board notices and agendas.
VanderMolen also brought up whether the sale of the bus garage was being considered. Starck said the board had considered the possibility of selling the garage last spring, but decided against it.
Cedric Boettcher, board member, said he views the garage as “an ace in the hole,” in case the district’s busing situation changes in the future.
Carolyn Wanish, community member, stated she wants happenings with the bus garage to be much more transparent than the original bus deal was. Tegels encouraged everyone in attendance to contact the board about issues they are passionate about, since the board can change their policies.
“So, if you guys want different policies on how properties are sold, it’s our job to listen to you,” said Tegels.
“As long as it’s fair, that’s what we’re asking for,” said VanderMolen. “That Student Transit, and Yellow Bus and Kobussen all get a fair shot at it.”
District voters also approved keeping board member’s salaries and lunch prices the same as the previous year.
The 2020 annual meeting has been set for Monday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m.