Final Shawano schools budget approved

District sees increase in its revenue limit, tax levy, and decrease in tax rate
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

The final budget for the Shawano School District got approval Oct. 23 after the residents attending the annual meeting approved the tax levy and the school board held a meeting after to approve it and the $35 million in funding it will receive during the school year.

About $12.9 million of that will be from local taxpayers through the levy. The remainder comes from state aid, federal grants, fees and other miscellaneous sources.

“Our budget, nearly 70% of it is staffing,” said Superintendent Kurt Krizan. “Some of our education plans include refining our strategic plan. We’ve also looked at providing additional training and support, professional learning communities, and we’ve also invested in the social-emotional learning based off the Seven Mindsets.”

Funding comes with challenges, too. Shawano finds itself lumped in with 17% of school districts in the state with declining enrollment, according to Krizan, and with that comes a reduction of about $11,000 per student in state aid. The current three-year average, which the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction uses to determine aid, is 2,201, but with the latest annual student count showing a loss of about 100 students, the district could lose more money in coming years.

“We’re also seeing post-pandemic learning gaps in our students,” Krizan said. “We are also dealing with unprecedented inflation in the costs of goods and services, as well as a shortage of staff.”

Krizan also highlighted how the previous year’s budget, originally projected to have a deficit, wound up with a $2.6 million surplus. The district has not detailed what it plans to do with that surplus yet.

“That will help reduce our per-pupil costs as, with fewer students, there’s less aid we can collect,” Krizan said.

The district currently owes over $6.82 million from bond debt, according to the budget report, which is expected to be paid off in 2027.

“We are in a good place with debt falling off,” Krizan said. “Having some infrastructure and building needs, we’re looking at planning for a possible April 2024 referendum.”

District officials presented the school board with a balanced budget previously, but with final numbers in place, there is actually a surplus of $17,023, according to finance consultant Bryan Kadlec. The budget is expected to leave the district with a fund balance of $11.87 million, which is equivalent to about 33.6% of the budget, which Kadlec said is a good position for the district to be in.

The tax rate is expected to be lower than originally announced, as well. It will drop 20 cents to $6.66 per $1,000 of equalized valuation, which means that a property worth $100,000 will yield $666 in school taxes for the coming year.

The revenue limit of almost $26 million, a 5.3% increase from last year, includes almost $1.5 million in private school voucher aid deductions and over $53,000 for an exemption for the prior year’s open enrollment.

“A lot of that is related to the fact that the latest state budget’s low-revenue ceiling increased to $11,000 per pupil,” Kadlec said.