SENECA - The Seneca School Board received a preliminary 2018-19 budget report from district administrator Dave Boland at their meeting on Monday night.
Boland stressed the current budget is preliminary and is likely to change for any number of reasons, including the fact that the state has announced it will do a property re-evaluation that will raise the value of property in the state by approximately four percent.
Boland told the board that re-evaluation would differ from municipality to municipality. However, in the past, when the state has announce a four percent target for the overall average, the total property value in the district has gone up 3.8 to 4.2 percent.
Interestingly, the re-evaluation will probably drive down the mil rate because an increase in the value of property means less per thousand dollars of evaluation will be needed to reach the tax levy.
Boland explained the preliminary proposed budget calls for $4,476,369 in expenditure and the same amount of revenue. The revenue will include a $1,709,000 tax levy without the re-evaluation, the mil rate would be about 10.81. Last year, the mil rate was about 10.03.
Among the biggest variables still in play is the Third Friday Count. The count of enrolled students in any district on the third Friday of the school year is used to determine the level of per pupil state aid the district will receive.
While the district has an idea of what that count will be a variety of unknown factors, like home schooling, open enrollment and more, can impact the final number.
So, the current preliminary budget remains an estimate. As the numbers firm up it will be adjusted and a more finalized version will be presented for approval at the 2018 Seneca School District Annual Meeting on Wednesday, October 17. The board will approve the final budget, probably identical to the one approved at the annual meeting at their October 22 board meeting.
On the budget front, the board heard some good news as well. The district’s contracted insurance agent searched for a different disability insurance policy at the district’s request and found one with a much lower price. Seneca faced a 14 percent increase in the price of the insurance from EPIC. However, a new policy from National Insurance with exact same benefits will cost 33 percent less than the previous policy.
Board member Rachel George moved to change policies for the coming year and Charles Clark seconded the motion. It passed unanimously.
The board got more good news on the school security front. The cameras and electronically locking doors have been installed and are working. The key fob entrance activation for staff members is being programmed. The entire $58,000 cost was paid for by a state grant.
It was reported that the school liaison officer is scheduled to arrive shortly. The services and cost of this Crawford County Sheriff’s Department employee will be shared by Seneca, North Crawford and Wauzeka-Steuben.
Early in the meeting, the board received a presentation from students Emma Payne and Sarah Elmendorf. As Youth Advocates for Community Health (YACH) the local teens partnered with UW Extension to improve aspects of health.
The Seneca YACH Team focused on expanding the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in the daily lunch line. Later, the team also focused on improving the taste of water in the lunchroom.
Both efforts met with some success. Payne will stick with the project going forward and a replacement for Lenzendorf is being sought.
In other business, the Seneca School Board:
• approved Kayla Chambers as an additional middle school volleyball coach-there are 36 girls currently in the program
• hired Pat Connors in a part-time role for the Educator Effectiveness position-Work he did before his retirement last year
• transferred $451,693 from the General Fund to Fund 10 the Special Education Fund to balance it-a transfer routinely done
• transferred $11,314 from the general fund to balance the lunch fund
• approved a shared services agreement with LaFarge to provide that district with some speech services
• learned the projected enrollment for this year is 293 down from last year’s 301
• chose Brian Reynolds and Ashley Roberts for the Seneca Area School District Monthly Recognition Award for their efforts in providing CPR training to district personnel and students, as well as band director Jenny Jerrett for her efforts in improving the school band