Community comments on Green Bay school budget
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – The community had its first opportunity to weigh in on the proposed $290 million 2020-21 budget for the Green Bay school district at a public engagement session Monday, Oct. 19.
“This is part of the (budget) process,” said Superintendent Steve Murley. “Tonight’s opportunity is to hear from the general public.”
Pete Ross, chief of operations, and Angie Roble, executive director of finance, gave a brief overview of the school budget prior to public comment.
Ross said there have been a few minor changes to the budget since receiving the final numbers from the state last week, which will be added to the final budget proposal.
Only one community member called in to share thoughts on the budget – which centered around frustration.
“I’m choosing to look at schools as a business,” said parent Brook Andrews. “Through that lens, as a parent and a resident of Green Bay, I am both a customer and a shareholder in this business. As a shareholder whose tax dollars go toward school funding, I’m furious at the thought of wasting millions of dollars on costs of services we aren’t using. As a customer, I’m even more irritated that my children are not only missing out on the level of education that they would receive in person, but they’re missing out on the opportunities associated with extracurricular activities. When I see fiscal irresponsibility by the administration, when I see my children are being disenfranchised and our voices are falling on deaf ears with the board, I can’t honestly say that I will unconditionally support future school referendums and I doubt many parents watching their kids suffer like this feel much differently.”
Because Monday’s meeting was a public engagement session, board members were unable to respond to Andrews’s comments.
While participation in the engagement session was low, trustees said they have, and continue to, receive feedback from the community on the budget through other means like emails and phone calls.
“The budget has been a big topic of interest and we have taken a lot of feedback from the community throughout the process,” said Eric Vanden Heuvel, board president. “School funding in the State of Wisconsin is complicated, but our staff did a great job positioning the district for short-term and long-term success. We are very pleased that the budget contains a progressively lower mill rate for the fourth year in a row as promised in the 2017 referendum, yet we found a way to meet the needs of our 21,000 students in a way we have never experienced.”
The public will have one more opportunity to comment on the budget at the public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26.
Ross said all details on equalized aid, student enrollment and voucher amounts will be updated and finalized for this meeting.
The board will vote on adopting the budget following the hearing.
More information regarding virtual meetings can be found online at gbaps.org/our_district/board_of_education/virtual_board_meetings.