SENECA - The last Seneca School Board meeting before the school year starts in a week was a rather quiet, matter-of-fact affair.
The board attended to the regular business of paying bills and hearing some reports, but the real meat of the matter was that the amount of general state aid the district will receive remains unknown.
The Wisconsin state legislature has yet to approve a budget. It’s later than late at this point. Although the state aid to education might be settled, the Wisconsin Department of Instruction has yet to receive the budget and run the numbers telling each district what they will receive in general aid so they can create a budget and a tax levy.
One thing the district does know is that they will be about $90,000 down from last year’s budget based on slight increases in wages and insurance costs and decreases in categorical aid this year. The categorical aid decreases include $18,000 less in Title 1 and Title 2 funding, $13,000 less in high cost transportation aid.
Seneca District Administrator Dave Boland gave his frank assessment of the situation.
“I really do not see the chances of the mil rate not going up,” Boland said.
As for state aid amounts from the, as yet, not passed state budget, Boland saw a lot of uncertainty for the district.
“Right now, it’s more in flux than usual,” Boland told the board. “It’s a crap shoot.”
Auditors have all but finished their review of Seneca’s 2016-17 budget. Boland reported the school district’s fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2017 created a $62,000 deficit. There were two major reasons that occurred, according to the district administrator. The Seneca Area School District finished the lighting project and that created a $28,000 expense and there were additional unanticipated expenses in special education of $43,000.
The district also lost $2,000 in food service, but expects increases in lunch prices will help to balance that budget in the current school year.
It was noted by board member Larry Kelley that 57 percent of the students attending school in Seneca qualify for free and reduced lunches, because of family incomes. He also said that anyone who qualified should be encouraged to apply for free or reduced lunches.
In other business, the Seneca School Board:
• approved an academic and career planning document summarizing their efforts in these areas that is required by the state
• approved the use of the school van by the middle school football team that practices with Wauzeka, when it is available
• approved a new computer-based absence and substitute teacher management system at a cost of $3,700 for the first year and $1,200 per year in subsequent years—provided it is compatible with district’s Skyward computer program
• received an update on the bathroom remodeling that should be completed before the first day of school
• learned about the open house and school picnic planned for Thursday, Aug. 31 to be followed by a half day of school on Friday, Sept. 1
• approved giving the Seneca Area School District Monthly Recognition Award to Dave Boland, who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame later this fall
After meeting in closed session to discuss personnel matters, the board reconvened in open session and approved hiring Sandy Connors as a halftime English teacher. Connors had retired with the end of the spring semester.
The board also approved hiring Susie Garfoot and Jessica Olson as freshmen basketball coaches and Ashley Roberts as the school secretary.