The largest share of it supports instruction, classroom programs

By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

With minimal discussion and a quick overview, Whitewater Unified school officials have set in motion the district’s 2021-22 school year budget, which clocks in at $35.8 million.

Business Manager Matthew Sylvester-Knudtson combed through the district’s tentative spending plan at the board’s regular business meeting Aug. 23. A public hearing also was held, and no residents spoke for against the plans as presented.

“In October, there will be a revised budget presentation, at which point the levy is certified,” Sylvester-Knutson said. “That is when things are finalized.”

Pending details that will crystallize this year’s budget include a district-wide student enrollment tally that will be taken Sept. 17 (the third Friday of the month) and reported to the Wisconsin Department of Instruction to determine how much the state will contribute financially to WUSD this school year.

Other information that could sway final budget figures includes final open enrollment counts, based on students attending from outside the district, and finalized property valuations, which will be reported to the district in about a month.

While the figure is subject to change as further details emerge in the coming months, the district is proposing a $17.76 million property tax levy as a key revenue source for this year’s budget.

Estimated property values across the district’s footprint stand at $1.6 billion, Sylvester-Knudtson said, equating to an estimated taxpayer contribution of $11.10 per $1,000 of equalized property value.

The lion’s share of the district’s overall budget – the general fund – fortifies day-to-day instruction and programs within the classroom. At $29.4 million, the fund comprises 82.3 percent of the overall budget.

Also in the mix are six additional funds, each serving distinct purposes. Referendum-related debt, for example, totals $3.3 million, and non-referendum debt is $534,778.

The district also has in place its capital expansion fund of $1.15 million, which this year is focused on the turf athletic field improvements. The balance of the funds are earmarked for other capital improvement projects, food service and the community service fund that benefits programs for the broader community.

During his budget presentation, Sylvester-Knudtson highlighted the programs planned for this year’s community service fund, which is also known more formally as Fund 80.

The sliver of the district’s overall budget will fortify six different community programs geared toward residents of varying ages.

The list of offerings includes an adult ESL program, after-school strings, athletic programs for middle schoolers, volunteer coordinators and family and community engagement activities. Also in the mix is the Whitewater Aquatic and Fitness Center, which WUSD operates jointly with the city.

According to Sylvester-Knudtson’s figures, the district’s $5.3 million fund balance – a portion of the budget set aside for reserve cash – is 17.99 percent of the general fund. Last year, district officials added $81,000 to the fund balance.

Once the WUSD School Board adopts the budget and certifies the levy in late October, the dollar figures will be reported to municipal clerks in anticipation of the December tax bills.

 

 
 

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