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2012-2013 Annual Report
2012-2013 Annual Report
Last Monday evening we held the Annual Meeting for the School District of the Menomonie Area. The annual meeting plays an important part in the governance of a school district. The annual meeting provides district residents with an opportunity to focus their attention and comments on the operation of the district. It also provides an opportunity to review the year and vote on the proposed budget.
District Business Manager Marleen Clark and I both provided a review of the district and our finances. This past year has been a productive year and a time for continuing change. As most of you know, 2011-2012 was the first year of the state's biennial budget and cuts that were made resulted in a reduction to the district revenue cap of $550 per pupil. The reduction in state aid, together with the increases we anticipated in regular expenses, resulted in a need to cut the district budget by $2.7 million. Like many school districts, the School District of the Menomonie Area had been in a budget reduction mode for more than two decades. Reducing the budget an additional $2.7 million required some significant changes and concessions by our employees.
The changes in employee benefits directed by the passage of ACT 10 resulted in employees paying a larger portion of their state retirement. For the average non-certified staff, the increase out-of-pocket was approximately $1,400. The average increase for certified staff was approximately $2,900. In addition to these changes in the budget, the staff voluntarily increased their health insurance contribution and accepted a freeze in all compensation. The employee changes resulted in a $985,000 budget reduction for 2011-2012. The additional reductions came in staffing and program changes.
Despite the reductions, a conservative approach to budgeting, together with good fiscal management by our various budget directors and administrators, allowed us to end the 2011-12 school year with a surplus. The surplus resulted in an increase to our fund balance of $391,829. The fund balance has increased from 9.10% in 2009-10 to the current rate of 13.25%. That is very good news. The fund balance is our “rainy day” fund and our board policy goal is to attain 15%. A strong fund balance is essential to sound fiscal policy and management.
We have been working on the final 2012-13 budget for the last few months. The second year of the state's biennial budget provides an increase in the revenue cap of $50 per pupil or $309,853. In addition, the state provided a one-time additional increase of $165,650. The modest increases in aid still required budget reductions to be made in other areas in order to achieve a balanced budget for 2012-2013. The final budget cannot be determined until the district receives the equalized property valuation in October. That figures sets our final state aid and the actual mill rate.
In summary, the 2012-2013 tax levy for operations, debt service, and community service is projected to be $16,864,878, an increase of 2.05% compared to a tax levy of $16,526,371 for 2011-12. During the past year, state revenues for the school district accounted for 53% of the operating budget. State revenues are projected to account for 51% of the total budget for 2012-13. This is a decrease of 2%. The projected tax rate for 2012-13 is $10.45 per $1000 of equalized value; this is an increase of $0.21 from the actual mill rate of $10.24 a year ago.
There continues to be much discussion throughout the state about the budget "tools" provided by Act 10. It is important to understand that our district continues to utilize a self-funded health insurance program. The program has been in place for more than thirty years and continues to save costs for our taxpayers and employees. However, despite the lower costs of the program, one of the options to reduce budget costs for 2012-2013 was to increase both deductibles and co-pays. The changes in the insurance plan resulted in a $345,000 budget reduction. The additional budget reduction needed for 2012-2013 was approximately $650,000.
In addition to the changes in health insurance, we have continued to use attrition to reduce costs while still working to preserve programming for our students. In 2010-2011 we had 245 certified teachers. As a result of retirements and staffing adjustments, we now have 226 certified teachers on staff. The non-certified staff has been reduced from 149 positions to 145. The reductions in staffing come at the same time that we have increases in productivity and accountability. Our staff has been instrumental in allowing us to maintain exceptional programming for students while still containing costs.
This will be the first year our employees will be working under the conditions of the school district employee handbook rather than collective bargaining agreements. Our staff represents our social capital. Social capital can be measured by how well we collaborate to achieve a collective responsibility.
One of our greatest powers comes from decisions about how we use the people we have. The board is committed to sustaining an excellent staff and the use of collaborative processes. The board engaged in a process of listening sessions to develop the current employee handbook. Employees will have the opportunity to participate in ongoing conversation and feedback with the implementation of a Quality Improvement Committee. We want Menomonie to continue to be a destination district for both quality educators and families.
Finally, I am looking forward to another very progressive year. We have had two schools identified as Wisconsin Response to Intervention (RtI) Schools of Recognition. Several schools were nominated based upon the excellent work of our district and staff. Both River Heights and Menomonie Middle School will have many visitor requests from other districts. The work we are engaged in district-wide has all of our buildings focusing on student achievement and engagement. We promise more good things to come. Each child is at promise for wonderful outcomes in life and it is our responsibility to meet each child's needs.
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