The Waupaca School Board approved a nearly $31 million budget for the 2013-14 academic year at a special meeting Tuesday, Oct. 29.
Property owners will see their tax rate increase from $10.40 per $1,000 of valuation in 2012-13 to $10.65 in 2013-14.
The two major sources of revenue supporting the school budget are the $14.65 million tax levy, which was increased by $303,000 over 2012-13, and $8.9 million in general state aid, up slightly over last year’s $8.88 million.
In his report to the school board, Business Manager Carl Hayek said the Waupaca School District has lost $3.5 million in general state aid over the past five years.
The biggest drop in state aid occurred in 2011-12, when Waupaca saw its state aid cut by more than $1 million.
Hayek explained that as the state cut its school aids, the costs to fund education have shifted to local property taxes.
The district’s total tax levy was $12.18 million in 2008-09. The levy has increased every year since then.
The largest increase was in 2012-13 when the levy rose by nearly $1.4 million and the mill rate was increased by $1.20 per $1,000 of valuation.
Hayek also noted the district remains well below its revenue cap.
The state sets a limit on the total amount a school district can receive from all sources, including property taxes and state and federal funding.
Unlike most school districts in Wisconsin, Waupaca began cutting costs rather than raising its property taxes to the cap.
In 2008-09, Waupaca taxed at the allowable revenue limit. But in 2009-10, as state aid began falling, the district taxed $956,000 below the cap.
In 2011-12, Waupaca taxed $2.76 million less than it was allowed under the state revenue cap.
In this year’s budget, the district’s property tax levy will be $2.8 million below the revenue limit.
In 2011-12, Waupaca ranked fifth in the state in the amount it taxed below its revenue cap.
In order to tax significantly below its cap, Waupaca managed to control costs.
During the 2011-12 school year, Waupaca spent $11,838 per student, according to state Department of Public Instruction figures. The state average that year was $12,761 per student.
In addition to taxes and general state aid, other significant revenue sources include $480,000 in SAGE funding, $432,000 in Title I funding, $525,000 from open enrollment, $530,000 from federal sources, $166,000 in special project grants from the state and $45,000 in computer aids.
The district also receives a small amount of funding from student activity and lunch fees.
The school district’s budget for debt service in 2013-14 is set at $3.36 million. Of that amount, $508,000 is going toward interest.
Between now and 2019, interest payments will steadily drop as the district pays off the bonds which were issued when the new high school opened in 2000.
The district currently owes $18.4 million in principal and $1.4 million in interest with annual payments just under $3.4 million.
“In five years, our debt structure will be zero if everything is paid off,” said Steve Shambeau, the school board president.