Muskego schools' tax levy may climb slightly this time
Board awaits final figures before considering budget
Muskego — A preliminary budget calling for less than half a percent increase in the property tax levy is slated to be voted on by the Muskego-Norway School Board on Monday, with taxpayers reviewing the proposed spending plan at the district annual meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 28.
For the current 2013-14 school year, the proposed levy is $32,926,884, which is 0.56 percent less than the previous year. This is the first time in three years that the levy has gone up — it dipped a bit the two previous years.
That levy would support a 2013-14 spending plan of nearly $60.6 million, which would be $569,371 or 0.95 percent higher than the district spent last year, according to unaudited budget figures. The proposed general fund, regarded as the operating budget, would be up less than $1 million, or nearly 2 percent.
The budget shows a $14.1 million drop in debt service from last year, but that was because the district refinanced its debt last year and the amount that was refinanced shows up in the debt service category of last year's budget, said Julie Kelly, assistant superintendent and director of business and human resources.
The budget includes a major technology initiative.
"This is the first year of the Chromebook one-to-one initiative for fifth and ninth grades," Kelly said.
Every fifth and ninth-grader now has a computing device that isn't quite as powerful as a laptop, but will deliver what is needed from an educational standpoint. School officials see the devices as a major step forward in the schools' abilities to provide challenging education.
No other major programs have been added and none have been dropped or reduced in the 2013-14 proposed budget, Kelly said.
Certain elements of the budget aren't yet final, especially on the revenue side.
Crucial state aid should be a bit higher this year, Kelly said. But how much more aid the schools will get won't be known for weeks.
The budget also calls for using up to $800,000 from surpluses to finish making entrances to schools more secure. That work was done over the summer.
Although the board hopes to approve the preliminary budget Monday, it will be without critical information of actual state aid figures and the equalized property evaluation, both from the state.
The board should have the results of the first Friday enrollment count — which powerfully impacts the amount of state aid the schools get — by the time it votes Monday. The first Friday count is Sept. 20, so the budget figures may change a bit by the time the board votes on Monday.
All information will be available at the Oct. 28 annual meeting.
A lot of things can change by annual meeting time, but School Board member Brett Hyde said, "I'm glad we're looking at only a half a percent levy increase."
If something unexpected happens, "that gives us something to work with," Hyde said. "Overall, it's a solid budget."
Board member Lisa Warwick noted it's too soon to come to conclusions about the budget because so many blanks have to be filled in. But she said as far as programming goes, "from what I've seen, it looks pretty good," she said.
AT A GLANCE
The proposed Muskego-Norway School District budget for 2013-14:
Total budget: $60,572,429
Previous year's budget: $60,003,058
Difference: up 0.95 percent
Proposed property tax levy: $32,926,884
Previous year's levy: $32,741,926
Difference: up 0.56 percent
Proposed general fund (operating budget): $52,344,875
Previous year's general fund: $51,353,415
Difference: up 1.9 percent
WHAT: Muskego-Norway School District annual meeting to review the proposed 2013-14 school budget and approve the property tax levy
WHEN: 7 p.m. Oct. 28
WHERE: Muskego High School Performing Arts Center, S8750 Racine Ave.
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