Voucher schools impact district’s revenues
By Jennifer LeNoble
After approving a mill rate of $10.24 at its annual meeting in September,
The New London School Board approved a budget with a property tax rate of $10.31 per $1,000 of equalized value at its Oct. 26 meeting.
Although a 10.24 mill rate was approved at the district’s annual meeting in September, the budget had to be adjusted due to Private School Choice Vouchers.
The school district of New London was informed on Oct. 15 that eight students are attending a private school somewhere in Wisconsin with a voucher.
Starting this year, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) takes money from a district’s state aid for every new voucher student. This aid reduction impacts all public schools with students who attend private voucher schools.
“Currently, we do not know who these students are or what school they are attending,” Director of Business Services Joseph Marquardt told board members. “Personally I feel that we should know who these students are.”
During September’s annual budget hearing, Marquardt told board members that the district’s local private schools were not part of the school choice program and he was unsure if there would be any local effect on the district’s budget.
The private school choice vouchers will impact New London’s budget in the amount of $137,000. The voucher program will cost the district $63,000 in additional expenditures and also increase the revenue limit by $74,000.
According to Marquardt, without the voucher program the mill rate would have been $10.24 instead of $10.31. Last school year the mill rate was at $10.35.
“This shows how big of an impact this program has on our budget,” Marquardt said. “This is quite unsettling from a budgetary standpoint because our taxpayers will be paying more in taxes by having eight students attend a private school.”
In the initial September budget hearing it was estimated that taxes would decrease by 1.7 percent. The recent action puts that decrease at less than one percent. According to Marquardt property taxes will likely increase in future budgets because there is no cap on enrollment and other private schools will likely sign up in 2016-17.
The other change to the budget is the district’s equalization aid. The final equalization aid is $100,000 less than what was provided to the district on July 1 by the DPI.
There were no other significant changes from the initial budget hearing that needed to be discussed and board members were prepared to approve the final budget for the 2015-16 school year.
Board members approved the budget for all funds in the amount of $33.18 million and approved a $7.66 million tax levy.
“These changes to the budget are frustrating,” Marquardt said. “But we’ll continue to move forward to the best of our capabilities for our district.”