The New London School Board approved a 2014-15 budget that projects an increase in the tax levy by 1.9 percent and an increase in district spending by 2.7 percent.
Both projections are based upon passing a $500,000 referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The board approved the $30.57 million budget during its regular board meeting, Monday, Sept. 8, after Director of Business Services Joe Marquardt presented the annual budget hearing.
“Asking taxpayers to increase their tax levy is never an easy decision,” said District Administrator Kathy Gwidt. “Action is being taken at this time only because there are no options other than continuing to postpone maintenance and security needs or falling short of our goals to maximize student achievement.”
Over the past several years the district has worked to cut costs and minimize the impact of budget reduction on students. It is the district’s goal to create a budget that is sustainable while maintaining its mission: Success for all Students.
“We always go back to our mission statement when it comes to our operating principles,” said Marquardt. “This is the key foundation to create a balanced budget.”
The budget calls for a $292,785 estimated increase in state aid and 1.93 percent increase in property taxes. Marquardt said the final levy and spending totals can change between now and the levy certification date on Nov. 10. In addition, the budget includes a one percent wage increase for certified, administrative and support staff.
A large component of the budget is the referendum. The district is seeking community approval of a $500,000 non-recurring, four-year referendum for purposes consisting of roofs and facilities maintenance, ensuring safe and secure buildings, and maximizing student achievement.
The tax impact will be $50 per $100,000 of property valuation. According to Marquardt, the average home value in Waupaca County is $150,000 so passing the referendum would cost the homeowner an additional $75 per year.
Marquardt further added that the high school will be paid off in four years and the district will have no referendum debt. This will result in a 15-20 percent tax reduction or about $200 per $100,000 property valuation. The referendum debt is not a part of the revenue limit, which means the district will not have additional dollars freed up in the budget.
“The community members of our school district have continually demonstrated support when we demonstrate value for their investment,” Marquardt said. “As a district, we need to continue demonstrating fiscal responsibility and sustainability to earn their support.”
Both Gwidt and Marquardt presented board members with updates regarding the presentation of referendum information to the community.
The district has created a referendum webpage that provides an outline of what the referendum entails, and provides a list of dates and times for informational sessions that include presentations, and open forums for community members to ask questions and provide feedback to administrators.
The webpage also provides links to videos the district has created. Marquardt played a video for board members that featured an informative message from Gwidt, and footage highlights that show various roofing issues at the New London Intermediate/Middle School.
“The video provides the community with a visual of the concerns we have on our roofs,” Marquardt said. “It puts our concerns in a much better light.”
Leading up to the Nov. 4 referendum, the district will continue communicating referendum information with the community. For more information, community members can visit the district’s website www.newlondon.k12.wi.us and click on the Referendum link.