This Wednesday evening is our District’s Annual School Board meeting. The evening begins with our budget hearing at 5:45pm in the OHS conference room. The budget hearing is a time where questions can be asked regarding the proposed 2015-16 budget and related financial issues. The budget hearing is followed by the Annual meeting, typically starting at approximately 6:00pm. Please see my post from 9/21 for more information about school district annual meetings.
In preparation for our annual meeting, I would like to provide some important information related to our local tax levy. You may be aware that public school districts are funded in two primary ways – state equalization aid and our local tax levy. One function of the annual meeting is to take an advisory vote regarding the local tax levy. Even though our state equalization aid decreased just over 4%, our administrative team was prepared to recommend a “flat local tax levy.” In other words, we were planning to recommend no increase in the local levy amount. However, since our annual meeting information was published we received notification from the state that our District would be responsible to pay $75,047 for 10 students attending private schools using newly legislated voucher expansion money. Because the state is billing OSD for these students, we will need to increase our local tax levy by that exact amount. (The state budget bill actually allows us to levy for an additional $17,000 for voucher expansion. We do not plan to levy the additional allowance – only for the exact amount required for the voucher program in Oostburg.)
Statewide, the impact of voucher expansion on local tax levies is expected to be $21,374,926. Legislation allows that amount to double each year over the next several years until the cap on voucher enrollment is completely eliminated. It is important for our community stakeholders to recognize the impact voucher expansion will have on our local and state property tax rate as we now fund parallel educational systems using local tax revenue.
As a District we are one of small minority of state school districts that have levied locally at a much lower rate (under levy) than allowed by state imposed limits. In fact, since 2008 our District has an under levy totaling $1,902,600. It is a credit to our parents, staff and other community stakeholders that we continue to be one of the top academic schools in the state while also controlling costs. Unfortunately, those costs will be increased by just over 1.4% locally in order to pay for the voucher program this year..
We encourage you to attend our meeting this Wednesday!