Thursday, October 29, 2020 - 7:55 am

The Board of Education approved the 2020-21 budget as proposed and certified the tax levy of $79,739,515 at its regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 26.

Board president Annette Ashley presided over the meeting at the District Services Center, while other Board members participated remotely. The School Board has been meeting virtually since mid-March.   Assistant Superintendent of Operations Lori Ames noted the 2020-21 preliminary budget was approved in July and was a best guess of revenue that would be available. She noted districts still need their Third Friday September enrollment numbers, final state aid determinations, and finalized equalized property values and those aren't available before the Annual Meeting each September.

Ames noted the District had a significant drop in enrollment, which impacts the three-year rolling average that is used as part of the revenue limit. of September enrollment. The District's three-year rolling average dropped by 80 students, which means the District had nearly $900,000 less available.     State aid was about $38,000 less than anticipated, but the Department of Revenue but sent the District a notice that exempt personal property aid went from $300,000-plus to zero, which also impacted revenue.  

MCPASD property values increased by more than 5 percent, which was 2 percent above what the District projected, which helped bring down the equalized mill rate, Ames said.      The tax levy increased by 9.32 percent from a year ago. The mill rate for the upcoming year is $10.49 per $1,000 of property value, a 3.96 percent increase from a year ago.      School Boards in Wisconsin must adopt a budget and certify the associated tax levy on or before Nov. 1.

In other news from Monday's meeting:   * The Board held virtual listening sessions with staff from Elm Lawn, Park and Pope Farm for approximately 45 minutes before the regular meeting (photo above).   * The Board approved a resolution authorizing temporary borrowing in an amount not to exceed $4,650,000 pursuant to Section 67.12(8)a, 1 of the Wisconsin Statutes. Each year the District borrows for cash flow purposes. MCPASD received two bids and administration recommended creating a line of credit with State Bank of Cross Plains.   Ames noted the School Board takes this action annually. She noted expenditures are similar from month-to-month but a good chunk of the District's revenue from property taxes isn't available until January so the line of credit helps cover expenses. The interest rate offered by SBCP was 2.49 percent.   * The Board approved a compensation plan for 2020-21. The plan is accounted for within the adopted budget and reflects the review of specific employee groups identified in the three-year market review cycle, which also aligns with the District's "Great Place to Work" goal to be more effective in retention and recruitment of all staff.    Ames noted the compensation plan helps MCPASD remain competitive with surrounding Dane County districts. The District looks at starting wages annually and also implemented a 3-year plan last year to review employee group wages. This year's focus is on transportation, mechanics, custodians, nutrition services, and supervisors. 

Ames also noted a Dane County hiring initiative group is recommending that all school district employees make at least $15 an hour. This year MCPASD will have all of its employee groups at that level.     * The Board approved the District's Strategy Map and Board goals. The items were reviewed at the School Board meeting on Oct. 10, when members made several suggested changes.   

* Board president Annette Ashley noted the School Board received approximately 25 communications from residents. Some requested the Board consider some in-person options for schools, while others indicated virtual learning wasn't going well for their child or children. She noted the communications that were asked to be read will have personally identifiable information redacted and then posted on the District website.

* Superintendent Dana Monogue will serve on a Dane County Mental Health Task Force that was recently announced by County Executive Joe Parisi.