April 1, 2003

School Board sees first draft of budget

Hamilton School District officials painted a grim picture for educational funding in Wisconsin at the April 1 School Board meeting. Business Services Director Bryan Ruud presented the first draft of Hamilton’s proposed $35.2 budget, but cautioned School Board members that the state’s $3 billion to $4 billion budget deficit will likely cause local taxes to increase and require the district to cut existing programs and services.

Factoring in inflationary increases, negotiated salary-and-benefit expenses and expected property-casualty insurance hikes, the district will need an additional $1,892,237 to provide the same level of programs and services in 2003-04 as this school year. The district’s first draft of the budget is based on Governor Jim Doyle’s budget proposal which keeps the revenue caps in place but allows a basic cost-of-living increase. State revenue caps allow an additional $1,340,623 in revenue — leaving the district with $551,614 worth of cuts to make.

Two proposals in the state Assembly, however, would freeze increases beyond the revenue caps and the district would a have $1,437,949 or $1,892,237 less than projected expenses, depending on the proposal. Estimates are that 20 to 25 staff members would be laid off if the Assembly proposals are accepted.

The budget was built assuming the district will see an additional 39 full-time equivalency students next fall. If fewer students enroll, additional cuts will be necessary because state aid funding is based on student enrollment. While the governor’s proposal keeps his campaign promise to allow districts basic cost-of-living increases, Ruud said Doyle’s budget proposal reduces state aid — requiring school districts to increase their local levies.

The first draft of the district’s budget includes no new staff positions and a 32-cent drop in the mil rate. Ruud noted that the district has experienced a downward trend in the mil rate in the past decade, and the proposed $11.04 mil rate is nearly half of what it was in 1993. The School Board will approve a final budget in May to present to citizens at the June 16 Annual Meeting.

District joins alliance

School Board members authorized the district to participate in a new organization to help school districts in southeastern Wisconsin research issues and have a voice with state lawmakers. The district will be a member of the newly organized Southeastern Wisconsin School Alliance (SWSA).

Several proposals to change the state’s eduational funding formula have been discussed. The proposals would reduce state aid from southeastern Wisconsin and redistribute it to school districts outside the area. The Alliance would help its members provide information to state policy-makers as they consider funding formula changes.

Computer purchases approved

About $220,000 worth of computers will be replaced with OmniTech Corporation providing the equipment. The district will purchase 222 PCs — the majority going to Hamilton High School and Templeton Middle School. A dozen will go to Lannon Elementary School and three will be installed at Willow Springs Learning Center. The purchase also includes replacement of Macintosh computers for the high school’s graphic arts and Lance yearbook labs.

Summer curriculum work, professional development offerings approved

Instructional Services Supervisor Dee Bauman, Ph.D., presented information about the projects and activities that will keep many school district staff members busy throughout the summer. She reported that the summer program will focus on:

  • K-12 curriculum revision in physical education, technology education and world languages;
  • individual classroom curriculum projects for high school projects in advanced accounting, communication arts honors, biology and special education, and middle school projects in enriched science, enriched communication arts and science, and a 4-year-old kindergarten project;
  • team projects to develop classroom-level curriculum, material and assessments for implementation across grade levels or content areas; and
  • professional development workshops in writing, data analysis, school accreditation preparation, instructional leaders skill-building, teacher leaders, cardio-pulmonary resusitation, defibrillator and first aid training.

Personnel matters approved

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • approved retirement requests of Maple Avenue Elementary School assistant cook Carole Wilde and Lannon Elementary School teacher aide Marlene Helinski;
  • accepted the resignation of Woodside Elementary School teacher aide Melissa Sosic; and
  • granted a leave of absence for Maple Avenue early childhood teacher Kelly Gosse.