District $1.8 million below revenue cap
By Robert Cloud
Waupaca public schools have seen state aid drop by more than $4 million over the past seven years.
This year, state aid will decline by another $356,000 over last year.
“When general aid goes down, property taxes go up,” according to Carl Hayek, the Waupaca School District’s business manager.
At the school district’s 2015-16 budget hearing Thursday, Oct. 29, Hayek said cuts in state aid to education shifts the burden onto local taxpayers.
Although Waupaca has been raising its tax levy, the district still remains below its revenue cap set by the state.
The Waupaca School District taxed $2.76 million below its allowable revenue limit in 2011-12 and $2 million below its cap in 2014-15.
For the 2015-16 budget, the district will tax nearly $1.8 million below its revenue cap.
“Waupaca is one of only 10 school districts in the state of Wisconsin that are taxing at least $1 million or more below the revenue cap,” Hayek said. “There are 424 school districts in Wisconsin.”
In his report to the school board, Hayek noted that the Waupaca School District’s total current educational cost per pupil is $9,756, which is well below the state average of $10,689.
The total educational cost, which includes transportation and facility costs as well as instructional costs, is $12,584 per pupil in Waupaca, while the state average is $12,546.
Declining enrollment is a contributing factor to the ongoing drops in state aid.
In the 2004-05 school year, Waupaca’s enrollment was 2,461. This year, enrollment is down to 2,102.
The Waupaca School Board approved a 2015-16 budget with $31.54 million in revenues and $31.76 million in revenues.
The district is covering the revenue shortfall by applying an $85,000 surplus from last year’s actual budget to this year’s projected budget and covering the rest from its fund balance.
The school district’s total tax levy for 2015-16 will be $16,16 million, of which $12.8 million is for general operations and $3.36 million is for debt service. This represents a 3.9 percent increase over last year’s levy.
The district’s estimated property tax rate for 2015-16 will be $11.63 per $1,000 of equalized value, a 4.2 percent increase over last year’s mill rate.