DISTRICT OF THE MENOMONIE AREA
NOTICE OF A REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION
ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICE CENTER 215 PINE AVENUE E., WISCONSIN
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2023, 5:45 P.M. 

AGENDA

I. OPENING ITEMS

A. Call to Order

B. Roll Call and Quorum

C. Pledge of Allegiance and Reading of Mission Statement

D. Agenda Order and Approval/Revision

E. Community Communications

II. CONSENT AGENDA

A. Action to Approve Consent Agenda

1. Request for Student Travel for MHS FBLA

2. Certification of Knapp Safety Drill

III. PERSONNEL CONSENT AGENDA

A. Action to Approve Personnel Consent Agenda

1. Resignations/Retirements

2. Requests to Hire

IV. ACTION AGENDA

A. Action to Approve Revisions to Policy 652.1, Free Admissions

V. DISCUSSION ITEMS/POLICY REVIEW

A. Review of Instructional Coaching in the SDMA

B. Student Enrollment Update- Third Friday in September Report

C. Achievement/Annual SLO Report for All Grades

D. Review Plans for Remote Learning During School Cancellations

E. Discuss 2024 Health Insurance Renewal

F. Review Final Budget Revisions for 2022-2023

G. Discuss Operational Referendum for 2024

Last summer the school board discussed the possibility that the SDMA might need to consider a referendum for the 2024-25 school year. Work on the 2023-24 preliminary budget indicated an ongoing structural deficit mostly caused by inequitable revenue limits and the state not providing enough new revenue to keep up with inflation.

 

As can be seen in the attached graphs, the SDMA has consistently operated below the state average for the amount of revenue allowed per student, and the revenue gap between the SDMA and the state average has gotten much wider in recent years. In 2023-24, the revenue limit for the SDMA was nearly $1,000 per student less than what it should have been if revenue limits were indexed with inflation. According to the data from the Department of Public Instruction and analysis by the Wisconsin Association for Equity in Funding, the SDMA would have received more than $30 million of additional revenue since 1993-94 if the district's revenue limit had been at the state average.
 

Despite a long history in the SDMA of planning ahead, reducing debt, and saving for capital expenses, this ongoing problem became more challenging with the recently signed state biennial budget that did not include enough new revenue to replace federal pandemic funding and account for staffing shortages and historically high inflation. It was anticipated through preliminary budget work that without additional revenue or a significant reduction in expenditures, the SDMA budget would include deficits that would not be sustainable into the future.

This funding crossroads was discussed at length during the August 21, 2023 annual meeting. Despite careful and frugal use of federal pandemic funding to balance the SDMA budget from 2020-2024, it would not be possible for the district to balance future budgets without additional revenue or the reduction of expenses. Since state laws cap the amount of revenue that can be approved by the local school board, a referendum passed by the community would be needed if the Board decided that the best course of action was to exceed the revenue limit to generate more revenue. This is the funding mechanism (see DPI referendum info) that a majority of the school districts have already turned to, leaving the SDMA to fall further behind in per-pupil spending [877 referendums have been passed in WI to exceed the revenue cap since 1993 including some Big Rivers Conference and neighboring schools: Eau Claire (1999, 2007, 2016), Durand (2012), Elmwood (2007), Hudson (2001), River Falls (1998), and Spring Valley (2016)]. Without a successful referendum in the SDMA, drastic steps would be needed to reduce expenses in ways which would likely include the reduction of programming, services, and staff; the deferral of important capital maintenance and technology projects; the acquisition of debt; increased class sizes; and even the possible closure of some district schools.

Now that the onsite portion of the 2022-23 audit is finished and work on the 2023-24 budget is nearing completion, a picture for the financial future of the SDMA is becoming more clear. It is difficult to predict how inflation will continue to impact the school district into the future, but budget projections currently indicate a recurring annual structural deficit in the range of $2-$4 million.
 
It is important that the Board decides what to do about this structural deficit in a timely manner. Decisions for next school year related to student programming, class sizes, staffing plans, compensation plans, and summer maintenance projects will need to be made in early 2024. The next two elections during which a referendum could be held are February 20, 2024 and April 2, 2024.

It is recommended that the Board approve a referendum resolution in November 2023 if a referendum is going to be held in February 2024, or in January 2024 if a referendum is going to be held in April 2024. It could be possible to wait until April 2024 to hold a referendum, but many decisions that impact the 2024-24 budget should have already be made by that time. Especially with the challenges schools are experiencing with staffing shortages, it could be quite difficult, and perhaps damaging to district operations, to wait until April. The Board could approve programming, staffing and compensation plans before knowing a referendum result, but that could be a bit of a gamble. While the district currently has a fund balance sufficient to manage a short term deficit, the depletion of the fund balance would likely lead to additional expenses related to short-term borrowing for cash flow needs.
 
In addition to creating budget projections and reviewing referendum regulations, district officials in the SDMA have been collecting information from other area school districts who have already needed to ask their communities to consider an operating referendum. The district also plans to contract with School Perceptions to survey the community during the month of October, so the Board has more information before making a decision.  

H. Review Extracurricular Staff Contract Requests

I. Items Related to Next Meeting Dates, Board Committees, and Reports

VI. ADJOURNMENT

A. Action to Adjourn

The agenda as noted above was posted more than twenty-four hours prior to the meeting date. The most up-to-date agenda information is available on the district website. This agenda is posted at the Menomonie Area School District Administrative Services Center, and on the district website at www.sdmanonline.com under the School Board link.

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Steve Hanson
About

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley

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