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Tax levy increase possible
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The Fennimore Community Schools Board of Education learned the school district’s projected tax levy for the 2013-2014 school year during a meeting Wednesday evening, July 17.

District Administrator Jamie Nutter told the Board the Department of Public Instruction estimates the school district will receive $5,011,657 in general aid in 2013-2014.

“The final auditing report will determine actual state aid, but based on the spring equalized value, based on what our projected levy was and anticipated expenses, our state aid is going to be somewhere in that neighborhood,” Nutter said.

Current law calls for a $0 adjustment in per pupil revenue limits imposed on public school districts in 2013-2014 and thereafter was expected earlier this year. The proposed 2013-2015 state budget made no change to the law.

As the state’s budget was debated, the Joint Finance Committee recommended an increase of the per pupil revenue limit by $75 in 2013-2014 and an additional $75 ($150 total) in 2014-2015.

“We were very fortunate that this year for our revenue limit we were provided with that $75 per student,” Nutter said. “The good news is, based on our value, based on all the components, our state aid went up 2.76 percent.”

Nutter explained because the school district’s revenue limit and state aid increased relative to each other, the tax levy, the gap between the revenue limit and state aid, will remain similar to 2012-2013.

“Initial projections based on the estimates show that we are going to be possibly at an average $5 increase per $100,000 of equalized value,” Nutter said. “That is relatively close.”

While the 2012-2013 tax levy included a mil rate of $876 per $100,000 of equalized value, a mil rate of $882 per $100,000 is possible in 2013-2014, based on initial projections.

Later in the meeting, the Board unanimously approved scheduling the school district’s 2013 annual meeting for Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m.

“This follows the certification date of October 15,” Nutter said. “In Fennimore, what we have traditionally done is we approve real numbers.”

In other action, the Board:

• approved the retirement of bus driver Larry Watchorn, Sr., affectionately known as “Frog” to students.

“My employment from 1997 has been a very enjoyable experience,” Watchorn wrote in his retirement letter. “I have been able to do a number of different jobs along with full-time bus driver the past few years.

“I have made many new friends in my employment, and the staff here is one of the best.”

• approved a pair of donations.

The Fennimore Fire Department has donated eight walkie-talkies and several chargers to Fennimore Elementary School.

Elementary School staff use the walkie-talkies to communicate with the office, other teachers and the nurse’s office from the playground and other areas where utilizing a phone is not practical.

Epic has donated 40 SFF-745 and seven SFF-755 computer towers to the school district. The towers will be used to replace computers in Technology Education instructor Corey Bussan’s lab, and other computers throughout the district.

“We are really appreciative of these donations,” Nutter said. “Both are really nice.”

• approved final budget amendments for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

“This is something we are required to do every year,” Nutter explained. “We start the beginning of the year with projections of what we are pretty certain we are going to spend.”

The amendments included a $18,400 increase in facilities acquisition/remodeling, a $43,000 increase in undifferentiated curriculum and a $17,411 decrease in taxes.

“We don’t have a crystal ball, so we have to compare the projections with the actuals and make final changes,” Nutter said. “That requires Board approval for any budget changes.”

• approved hiring Joshua Eastlick and Candice McCorkle as first semester intern teachers at Fennimore Elementary School.

“State guidelines require us to have no more than 18 students to one licensed teacher in a  classroom, or no more than 30 to two licensed teachers,” Nutter explained. “An intern is a temporarily licensed teacher that provides a win-win situation for us.

“It allows them to work with one of our veteran teachers and it allows us to meet the SAGE guidelines.”
Eastlick and McCorkle will both graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in December. Eastlick will intern in the second grade, while McCorkle will intern in the third grade.

Eastlick and McCorkle will be paid $5,000 each for their services.

• approved partnering with Salucare, who will provide nursing services throughout the school district.

The Board unanimously approved the outsourcing of nursing services in April. The outsourcing of nursing services was to help offset a $180,000 budget deficit the school district faced for the 2013-2014 budget year.

“Right now, we are looking at that $41,000 range,” Nutter said of the costs associated with the new nurse. “It still comes out to be about a $40,000 savings.”

Nursing services will now be offered in the Fennimore Community School District from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., Monday through Friday.

• approved supply budgets for the 2013-2014 school year.

The district-wide curricular budget includes $314,639.21 in expenses, a decrease of $682.31 from the 2012-2013 school year.

“The staff understands how tight our budget is,” Nutter said.

• appointed Bob Reynolds, Charles Stenner and Dennis Lendosky to the School Board Salary Committee.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Board member Peter Heberlein said.

Attendance up

In his report to the Board, Fennimore Middle/High School Principal Dan Bredeson noted overall attendance during the 2012-2013 school year was 94.96 percent, up 1/4 of a percent over the school year prior.

“We are very close to a 95 percent attendance rate, which has never been achieved since I have been principal,” Bredeson wrote.

Bredeson also shared Advanced Placement results. Participation was its highest ever, with 53 exams taken.

“It has steadily been going up the last three years,” Bredeson said.

Thirty-two students will receive college credit, which is also a new record.