Green Bay school board adopts 2020-21 budget
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – In a matter of minutes the Green Bay school board adopted the 2020-21 budget at a special board meeting Monday, Oct. 26, following a brief public hearing, which drew no opposition.
“The board was happy to approve a budget that once again lowered the mill rate for our taxpayers while also meeting the diverse needs of our students,” said Eric Vanden Heuvel, board president. “Our per-pupil spending is below the state average, which signals to our community that we are carefully considering how we spend resources and at the same time offer the largest array of educational opportunities.”
The tax rate is $9.79 per $1,000 of home value, which is nearly 20 cents lower than last year.
The board adopted a $289.2 million balanced 2020-21 budget, which is a slight change from the $290.1 budget proposed earlier this month.
The reason for the change is due to a lower number of voucher students.
Following the three-year trend, staff budgeted for 200 additional voucher students. The district, however, only had an extra 110 voucher students.
“The difference was moved from Fund 10 to Fund 30, which will pay down bonds, long-term debt, saving taxpayers money in the long run on interest,” said Lori Blakeslee, director of communications.
The vote however, wasn’t unanimous with board member Rhonda Sitnikau opposed.
“I don’t believe this budget reflects a pandemic state as many families and local businesses are having to buckle down and make concessions and focus on priorities” she said. “Over the last several months, knowing we were going to be existing in an offsite format, I have been asking for any concessions that the district was planning to make only to be shut down and met with criticism.”
Cherry Street building purchase
Trustees gave administration the green light to move forward on the possible purchase of the Cherry Street building, which currently houses the John Dewey Academy of Learning and the Northeast Wisconsin School of Innovation.
The district currently leases the building for $334,728 per year.
Pete Ross, chief of operations, said if the district moves forward with the purchase it would be made using remaining 2017 referendum dollars.
While not specifically part of the 2017 referendum questions, Blakeslee confirmed there was communication released to the public regarding a possible $2.25 million being used for this use.
Superintendent Steve Murley said while the board needs to take a comprehensive look at all district facilities, which he plans to bring forward in the near future.
Murley said the limited lease agreement of the Cherry Street property puts this at the top of the list, with a decision needed before the end of the year.
Next, the board will schedule a closed session meeting to discuss purchase negotiations and a bargaining strategy.
Once negotiations are complete, the board would vote to authorize the purchase in open session.