Janesville45.6°

School tax increase hard to calculate

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
May 13, 2008
— The Janesville School District proposed budget for the coming year calls for an increase in the property tax levy of about 5 percent,

Comptroller Lauri Clifton said, however, that there are so many uncertainties at this point in the year that she is sure the projected levy of $34.88 million will change.


Whether it goes up or down is unknown. The levy won’t be set until the end of October.


The board took its first look at the budget Tuesday night.


While the levy is tentatively projected to increase by 4.9 percent, the operational budget will rise by a modest 1 percent, to $111.52 million.


One reason the levy increase is so much bigger is that the operational budget doesn’t take into account the increase in debt service to pay for the Craig and Parker referendum projects.


Because the board already has made decisions on staffing, which accounts for the lion’s share of the budget, debate might focus on a series of spending measures that aren’t yet approved.


They include:


-- $72,300 for the expansion of TAGOS Leadership Academy. The charter school for at-risk students in grades seven through 12 opened last September with 33 students. It’s requesting permission to expand to 70 students next fall, which would mean expanding its square footage at Arrow Park. One additional teacher for the school already has been approved.


The new openings could help the budget by keeping enrollment up. Some of the new students are expected to be those who otherwise would have stayed expelled.


-- $15,000 for substitute teachers and other training costs for implementation of the management practices of the Studer Group.


-- $34,250 for a “leadership development position” for the Studer Group process. The position would cost $68,500, but the Studer Group would reimburse half. The position would last only one year. The person would develop, implement and evaluate staff training and leadership training, including monitoring implementation of the teacher contract.


Superintendent Tom Evert withdrew his discussion of this item, saying he had received a communication from Studer Group CEO Quint Studer on Tuesday and he wanted to wait until the board meets May 27 to discuss it.


-- $22,400 to add 6.5 hours per day to the New Student Enrollment Office. The office staff was cut last year. The office has one full-time worker, with clerks added as needed. More hours are said to be needed for the new Preschool 4 Janesville program and new state reporting requirements.


-- $83,178 to add custodial staff to take care of the new TAGOS school and the additional square footage at Parker and Craig high schools.


-- $30,000 for school safety consulting services.


-- $38,000 for a “resource teacher” to be a liaison between Parker High School teachers and the new Parker principal on topics related to safety, staff communication, student discipline and school construction requests. Evert said he is concerned that the new principal will have a steep learning curve and will be stepping into the middle of a major school expansion project.


-- $15,000 for a consultant’s study of the efficiency of district administrative and support services. This request grew out of a question by school board member Tim Cullen as to the amount of people needed to run the district from the central office.


-- $9,000 for the short-term hiring of a person to develop plans for an educational foundation to support district programs and to enhance the district’s alumni association.


Budget process is a long road

What’s up? The Janesville School Board on Tuesday approved publication of the proposed 2008-09 budget, which guides all spending and taxing by the Janesville School District. Copies are available to the public at the Hedberg Public Library, 316 S. Main St.; at the main offices of all schools and at the superintendent’s office at 527 S. Franklin St.


What’s next? The board will discuss the budget at its regularly scheduled meetings over the next two months. The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 27, at the Educational Services Center, 527 S. Franklin St. School board President DuWayne Severson on Tuesday encouraged the public to come to meetings and speak their minds. For information about speaking at board meetings, contact assistant board clerk Nancy Hewes at (608) 743-5056.


Then what? A formal public hearing on the budget is set for Tuesday, June 10. A board vote on the budget is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, July 8. But there’s more.


More? Yes. In the months ahead, the board will continue to receive updates on the exact amount of state aid, the district’s valuation, enrollment numbers and the cost of another borrowing to support the Craig and Parker high school expansions. All these factors will affect taxes and spending. The board will set the tax levy in late October.



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