By Sarah Nigbor PRESCOTT – The Prescott School Board approved a balanced Prescott School District budget and tax levy for 2021 22 at the Oct. 21 board meeting, which resulted in a lower mill rate, which in turn translates to lower taxes for district residents on the school portion of their tax bills.
At the annual meeting held Sept. 15, Debby Brunette from Baird Financial presented an estimated budget with a mil rate of $10.23 per $1,000 in property valuation. Last year’s mil rate was $10.72 per $1,000 in property valuation. The numbers came in right on target with no surprises, she said. This means, residents will see a decrease of $50 on the school portion of their property tax bills per $100,000 in property valuation.
The budget approved is the school district’s operational budget for 2021 -22. The board had to wait for the final state aid numbers to come in, which occurred Oct. 15.
The total tax levy, which is $9,759,290, can be broken down like this:
•Revenue limit of $5,734,809 (Fund 10) and $381,065 (Fund 38). This covers items such as salaries, ben See TAX LEVY, Page 10 efits, utilities and insurance.
•Referendum debt (Fund 39): $3,493,416
•Community service (Fund 80): $150,000 At the Sept. 15 meeting, Brunette explained that the state revenue limit formula, adopted in 1993, plus per-pupil categorical aid, controls more than 90% of the district’s operating revenue.
The Third Friday Count, which occurred Friday, Sept. 17, is a driver in the state revenue formula. Student enrollment determines how much aid the district will receive (plus per-pupil categorical aid) from the state. When the district turned in its enrollment numbers to the state by the Oct. 1 deadline, then it received its equalization (property) value.
Brunette said 2021-22 budget highlights include:
•Continues to be a balanced budget
•Still have unknowns, such as final open enrollment numbers or utility costs
•Includes ability to pre-pay debt and generate future tax savings
•Will continue to provide monthly updates
•Can make adjustments with board approval
Malone Intermediate Principal Michael Kosmalski presented data concerning the 2021 summer school session, which shoed that 59 days of instruction occurred. This resulted in 2.75 million minutes in face-to-face instruction, 976 student participants and 59 high school students taking 26 online courses not typically offered during the school year, such as gothic literature, women’s literature, mythology and folklore, and health and wellness.
Summer school is reimbursed on a three-year rolling average attendance model, Kosmalski said. Year 1, 40% is reimbursed; years 2 and 3 are 100% reimbursed.
The formula includes 1 FTE, which equals 48,600 minutes of instruction. 2019 summer school saw 71 FTEs $1,384,500), while 2020 had 47 ($916,500)and 2021 had 62 ($1,209,000). While 2021 wasn’t at the pre-pandemic level, it’s getting there, Kosmalski said.
“Summer school programming has impacted our learning gaps,” he added.
Recently released state test scores in math and English language arts put Prescott elementary students at No. 1 in the Middle Border Conference; the district as a whole is tied in first with Baldwin-Woodville for ELA and is second in math (to New Richmond).
As far as Third Friday Count, which helps the state determine funding for districts, the numbers are as follows:
•Prescott special education: Four in 2021 (three in 2020)
•4K-524.5: 79 in 2021 (94 in 2020)
•5YK (five full days): 97 in 2021 (69 in 2020)
•Grades 1-12: 1,185 in 2021 (1,181 in 2020)
•Total: 1,365 in 2021 (1,347 in 2020) Another count will be taken in January, with numbers finalized in May.
•The board approved the hire of Jackie Montreal for the new district office position.
•The board approved the resignation of Megan Lisner as seventh grade English/Language Arts teacher.
•The PHS Student Council is working on an inclusivity club.
•Student Athlete of the Month in September was Aidan Russell.
•The board approved a resolution authorizing a taxable tax and revenue anticipation promissory note for cash flow purposes in an amount not to exceed $1 million. This most likely will not be used, Superintendent Dr. Rick Spicuzza said, but is “a safety net if there is a lag in state funds” or taxes coming in.
•The board authorized Facilities & Maintenance Supervisor Mike Hoikka to put out RFPs for lawn mowing and trimming, fertilizer and weed control services for a threeyear contract beginning in April 2022.
•The board approved one applicant for Early College Credit Program and one for Start College Now for Spring 2022.
•The board approved a PHS baseball team overnight trip to Wisconsin Dells on May 21. The team will play Jefferson and Wisconsin Dells teams and take part in a team building activity at a resort. The total cost of $2,457 is funded by team fundraising (75%) and the athletics department (25%).
•The board approved the installation of an inclusivity mural at PHS, which will be a 3M wall wrap adhesive-backed vinyl. The installation should take place within two weeks, along with a plaque explaining the mural. The mural cost will be paid from funds set aside for school branding, while donations will cover the $250 cost of the plaque.
Town of Oak Grove resident Jason Flanagan raised questions about the district’s responsibility for students once the bell rings.
“At what point does the school relieve themselves of the responsibility of a child?” he asked. “Is it when they’re off the bus, in the house, or when they leave school? Is it the school board’s policy to leave kids behind if they forget a mask?”
A federal mandate requires students to wear masks on school buses, even if districts make masking optional. Flanagan said a bus driver shut the bus door in his son’s face when his son forgot a mask. His daughter, who was already on the bus, had to borrow a cell phone to call their mother, to inform her her brother was being left at school.
“I say it’s unacceptable to close the door in any child’s face and tell them to find their own way home,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan said his son has forgotten a mask in the past, but he wasn’t aware it was an ongoing problem. His son wrote an apology letter and Flanagan delivered a box of 50 masks to the bus driver. Matzek promised an answer to his questions would be forthcoming.
Prescott resident Tesslyn Magnusson expressed her support of the diversity mural, which she called “stunning.” She is impressed with the color composition and combination of current and historical metaphors. “These students saw a problem in the world they wanted to address, studied how it impacts their lives and created a solution,” Magnusson said.