Shawano School Board approves balanced prelim budget

Officials watching for changes from state
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

SHAWANO — Shawano School District officials brought a balanced preliminary budget for approval Monday by the Shawano School Board, but that balance could be precarious if the state’s financial situation shifts or pandemic rules change.

Nick Curran, the district’s business manager, said there are a number of unknown factors with the state that could change the budget, which looks to keep the tax rate close to the current $9.58 per $1,000 of equalized valuation.

“As we continue to roll forward into July, August, September to final approval in October, this could have changes to it,” Curran said.

He noted the district is already expecting a decrease in state aid because of its continuing decline in enrollment. In 2019, the district lost 51 students, and the three-year rolling average used to determine state aid is showing a 40-student drop.

The state is anticipated to provide a $177-per-student increase in aid as approved in the biennial budget, according to Curran, which would total $44,000. However, the budget Curran provided did not include that increase, just in case the state changes course and holds the funding.

Curran said he expected the increase to offset the money expected to be lost due to declining enrollment.

The state could potentially cut funding through a budget repair bill, according to Curran, but word from Madison indicates that seems less likely. He said it’s more likely that any shortfalls in the current state budget would be addressed when legislators focus on the new budget in 2021.

“If we were to see a budget repair bill, that would throw this (budget) out of whack,” Curran said. “The $1.7 million we get in student aid would get pared down.”

Even if the state doesn’t alter funding, major changes in how schools are run during the pandemic could impact the budget. Curran noted transportation funding as an example, as reduction in capacity on school buses could require using more buses, doing double routes instead of single routes and more.