Witt-Birn School Board approves $15.4M preliminary budget

More equalization aid expected from state, open enrollment outlook positive for Witt-Birn
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

The Wittenberg-Birnamwood School Board signed off on a $15.4 million preliminary budget July 31, although the final budget will look slightly different once the district knows its student count for the 2023-24 school year and how much funding it will receive from the state.

“It is not set,” said Superintendent Garrett Rogowski. “That will be provided to you in more detail at the annual meeting, but we, in July propose a 2023-24 budget based on the information we have.”

WBSD is expecting to receive about $8.8 million in equalization aid, which Rogowski said is about $800,000 more than was received the previous year.

“That’s really good news,” he said.

Salaries and benefits still need to be finalized, and the district is currently negotiating with staff. Rogowski said uncertainties include the type of insurance employees are going to take.

“We’re working through some of those types of benefit packages with them,” he said. “We have estimates, and that’s all the data is.”

Salaries and benefits for staff are expected to total $9.2 million, about 60% of the total budget.

The budget estimates that the district is spending over $539,000 in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Funds for the school year, the bulk of it going to salaries and benefits. ESSER was established during the pandemic, and this is the last year the money can be spent, Rogowski noted.

The district expects to collect more than $3.2 million in property taxes for the 2023-24 school year. The remaining $3.4 million in the budget comes from fees, federal grants, state funding beyond equalization and open enrollment funds.

Rogowski had good news about open enrollment, which tends to be a mixed blessing for school districts. He estimates the district will receive more than $1.4 million in open enrollment funding because the district anticipates more students coming in from outside the district than students living in the district going to other schools. Final numbers will be known once school starts, he said.

“Open enrollment is very volatile, as you know,” Rogowski said. “We don’t know yet what that’s going to be. Students that submit open enrollment inquiries do not have to attend.”

The district’s annual meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 23 in the auditorium at Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School, 400 W. Grand Ave., Wittenberg.