Budget of $293.3 million proposed for Green Bay schools
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay School Board and community members got a first look at the district’s 2021-22 proposed budget at the Monday, Oct. 11, board meeting.
Chief Financial Officer Angela Roble said the general fund (Fund 10) shows a balanced budget with revenues for 2021-22 of approximately $293.3 million, which is an increase from $289.3 million in 2020-21.
Roble said the proposed budget includes a levy of $96.02 million, an increase of 0.47% from last year’s $95.57 million.
The district’s tax rate would be $9.03 per $1,000 property value, a decrease of 73 cents from last year’s $9.79.
Roble said the district has seen a drop in the tax rate in each of the last five years.
She said the equalized property value saw an overall increase of 8.9% for homes in district attendance boundaries bringing it to $10.63 million.
“Because of this large increase in property values, homeowners will most likely see an increase in property taxes despite the fact that the mill rate dropped,” Roble said.
That will vary depending on what municipality taxpayers reside in, she said, resulting in a tax increase of $58 to $185 on a $150,000 home.
Also included in the budget is $29 million slated for debt service, an increase of $8.3 million from last year.
The proposed budget calls for the transfer of $33.4 million from Fund 10 to the special education fund (Fund 27) – an increase of $4.6 million from last year.
“This year, actually, special education (enrollment) is up about 80 students to 3,086,” Roble said. “We are at about $52.9 million in anticipated revenues for Fund 27. A large majority of the money that comes into Fund 27 is supported by Fund 10, so with that transfer in the tune of 63%. Categorical aid that we receive based on prior year expenditures for special education is at about 24%, and then the other source of income that comes in is from federal.”
Roble said the district will receive an estimated $173.39 million in state aid.
Other highlights of the budget include nearly $12.5 million in Coronavirus Act, Relief and Economic Security.
“We have infused about $12.5 million into our budget this year, for right now, obviously that is an estimate from what we know what is coming for 2021-22,” Roble said. “In the revenues we’ve got $12.5 million in Fund 10, but that’s also offset by $12.5 million in expenditures. Same as any grant that we are accounting for, they are always offset and they are kind of a wash in Fund 10.”
The public is invited to provide budget feedback at a virtual engagement session at 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18.
A public hearing will be held the following week, followed by adoption by the board at its regular board meeting Monday, Oct. 25.
Fort Howard transition
The board rescinded an amendment approved at the Oct. 28, 2019, meeting in connection with the consolidation of Jefferson and Fort Howard Elementary Schools.
The motion to rescind included the following, which the board passed to provide families with stability during the transition:
• All current Jefferson staff will be guaranteed their current hours and pay.
• Transportation consisting at a minimum of hub bussing will be offered with no specified end date.
• The combined full-time equivalent support staff allocation of 7.85 will be maintained at a minimum with no specified end date.
• The total combined FTE between social worker and school counselor must be at least 2.5 FTE with no specified end date.
The recommendation to rescind the amendment came from administration based on an in-depth evaluation of the transition process.
“I don’t think what the board did in October of 2019 was inappropriate or out-of-bounds,” Deputy Superintendent Vicki Bayer said. “I think it was the right thing to do, and I think it showed a commitment to the community that this board was serious about making sure the transition was successful.”
Board member Andrew Becker cast the lone ‘no’ vote, describing the motion as a premature move.
“I am going to vote no because I think you need a full year, in-person to be able to answer that with the kind of certainty that I would need to rescind a motion,” he said.
Becker said he is concerned how this vote looks to the public.
“Don’t get me wrong, I expected this maybe next year or the following year, as things shook out,” he said. “But, to me, I don’t see how we can do this and have such a vote in the future be taken seriously.”
Bayer said she sees the opposite.
“I don’t know how the public could see you now backtracking on something, because what you suggested worked,” she said. “What we’ve done, according to our job, is to evaluate how it’s gone, and that’s why we are coming to you with a recommendation. I would expect, anytime the board makes a decision about something, that we would regularly evaluate it and come back to you with an update and a recommendation.”
Fort Howard Principal Deann Lehman said the consolidation process went even better than she anticipated.
She said she has received positive feedback from even the most nervous families.
“We are one Fort Howard school,” Lehman said.