Impacts of Governor Scott Walker’s proposed two-year budget were discussed at the Seneca School board meeting Monday night. During his report to the board, district administrator Dave Boland addressed the situation of the proposed reduced state funding for K-12 education.
Boland said the proposed reduction of $150 per pupil in the first year of the budget would mean a reduction of about $43,000 in state aid for the Seneca School District. However, increases for rural districts in categorical aid, like sparsity aid and transportation aid would offset some of the lost state aid. Boland said numbers he had seen on the proposed budget indicated the Seneca School District could wind up losing approximately $12,000 in the first year of the budget. While this is cause for concern, Boland told the board that the district is far enough under the tax revenue limit that it could absorb the reduced aid by slightly raising taxes to make up for it.
As proposed by governor the budget would restore the $150 per pupil reduction in state aid during the second year of the budget.
However, Boland advised caution about the situation.
“The devil is in the details,” Boland told the board. “All we know now is that it’s bad. We don’t know the extent of it yet.”
The administrator explained that the budget as it’s being proposed would be better in the second year when the funding cut in the first year would be restored.
Boland said that “most state legislators were voicing some concerns over the budget” and how it would affect school budgets.
Boland said the proposed state budget would impact each school district differently and some districts were already taking steps to prepare referendums to allow them to exceed tax revenue limit caps.
School board member and treasurer Larry Kelley agreed with Boland’s initial assessment that the district is operating below the current tax levy limit and should be able to make up the estimated revenue shortfall with local property tax revenue if it became necessary.
However, Kelley said he was skeptical of the legislature’s ability to change the budget because of the line item veto the governor possesses that can drastically alter any action taken by the legislature in the budget.
During a public input portion of their agenda, the Seneca School Board heard some concerns from a middle-school parent about a trend she had begun to notice at basketball games involving a lack of sportsmanship.
Janet Kilburg asked about the purpose of having the public address announcer read the code of conduct before every game.
“Do we just read it and tuck it under the time clock or is the goal to follow through with it?” Janet asked. She acknowledged that she “did not have a kid on the floor,” but said it feels uncomfortable attending games at times.
Kilburg took particular exception to fans yelling in the stands at the referees for calls they had made. She indicated that the refs’ calls, right or wrong, needed to be respected.
“The refs are in control of the game,” Kilburg told the board.
For their part, the board acknowledged the comments of Kilburg and further comments by this reporter about sportsmanship issues at games. Seneca School Board President Mark Johnson thanked Kilburg for bringing the matter to their attention
In other business, the Seneca School Board:
• approved a senior class trip to St. Louis this spring
• heard a report on small school proposal to the WIAA to create fairer post-season athletic tournaments and formed a consensus that district administrator should support the proposal of the small schools that would seek to level the playing field between small rural schools and small private or parochial schools located in large metro areas
• heard the school was selected by the state for a membership audit this year and would have to conduct the count of the students at a cost of about $1,200 to $1,500
• selected the two Seneca Elementary School students, Elizabeth LaLonde Nick Kirchoff, who respectively took first and second place in the sectional spelling bee and are headed to state competition, for the monthly recognition award