Howard-Suamico backs 2020-21 budget
By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – For the sixth straight year, the Howard-Suamico School District is seeking a tax rate of $9.19 per $1,000 of home value.
The school board approved the preliminary 2020-21 budget at its annual meeting Monday, Sept. 28.
“Most important, the tax (rate) is flat,” said Scott Jandrin, board treasurer. “You asked – this is where it’s maintained.”
While the rate remains the same, information compiled by Mike Juech, assistant superintendent of operations, shows the district is projecting a 2.5 percent increase in equalized property value for 2020-21, up to $3.15 billion.
The total tax levy is also projected to increase by 2.5 percent to $28,951,319.
The actual equalized property value will be finalized by the state later this month.
Because the value of property in the district keeps climbing, up from $2.485 billion in 2015-16, district residents can expect a higher tax bill if their property value rises, despite the constant tax rate.
The district has maintained the $9.19 rate even with the 2018 referendum. In the 2018-19 school year, the levy increased by roughly $1.5 million to $26,570,826.
The referendum helped reduce class sizes, better compensated teachers, and provided additional facilities maintenance.
Juech’s report showed the $9.19 tax rate was 2 percent below the state average of $9.37, and less than West De Pere, Sheboygan and Green Bay.
“In comparison to our surrounding communities, we have some of our lowest funding, but we are still able to maintain financially,” Jandrin said.
The 2020-21 budget shows general fund revenues of $69,915,433, down .26 percent from last year.
Expenditures for the 2020-21 budget are also $69,915,433, up .47 percent from last year.
Jandrin said enrollment for 2020-21 is 5,907 students, down from 6,076 last year.
State of the district
In a sign of the times, Superintendent Damian LaCroix gave his annual state of the district address remotely.
“We think about not only our rights as American citizens, but the responsibilities we hold in this republic,” LaCroix said. “So my goal tonight is to renew our commitment to our respective roles and responsibilities as citizens in this republic.”
Highlights of his speech included the district’s commitment to its Profile of a Graduate, seven traits it wants students to possess when they leave; a commitment to the arts; and a strong athletic program.
Together, LaCroix said the three represent wellness of mind, body and spirit.
He said the district also serves the community in other ways, like $1.5 million in grants awarded in 2019-20 through the Giving Tree, the district’s education foundation, and 240,000 breakfast meals and 245,000 lunch meals served in the community from March 17 to July 31.
LaCroix said the district also faces challenges.
“The state of our school district is challenged by inequity, poverty and racism,” he said. “It’s not a level playing field for all of our students when you look at the data.”
LaCroix said one of the favorite sayings of Heidi Hussli, a German teacher who passed away from COVID-19 in September, was “bring die Menschheit zurück,” or bring humanity back.
“We can honor Heidi and her legacy by doing our best,” he said.
LaCroix said bringing humanity back falls on everyone in the district, including parents and community members.
“Everyone wants to talk about their rights, but I don’t hear people talking about their responsibilities,” he said.