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Falls School Board OKs $42 Million Spending Plan

Despite loss of funding, district balances budget without cuts in programs or increasing property taxes.

The Menomonee Falls School Board Monday approved the final version of the 2011-12 budget proposal, a $42 million plan that calls for spending about $2.2 million less than last year.

Administrators balanced the budget in per-pupil revenues, roughly a $3.3 million drop in funding.

Administrators maintained class sizes and programs despite the deep cuts to funding and property as a result of the budget, officials say.

General fund revenues, which include state and federal funding, fell by 8.4 percent to $46.8 million.

To match the decrease in funding, the district also tightened its belt and reduced overall general fund expenditures by 4.87 percent, from $44.2 million to $42 million.

Overall, the budget features a slight decrease in the equalized property tax rate, which will fall from $11.71 per $1,000 of value to $11.62. That equates to a property tax bill of roughly $2,904 for a home valued at $250,000. That’s about $24 less than last year.

The total tax levy is $37.9 million, which is 3.3 percent lower than 2010-11.

The district will save $1.2 million by switching from health providers from the WEA Trust plan to Humana. The employee contribution toward retirement opened $1.3 million in savings as well. The district also expects to reduce its energy and gas usage by 38 percent.

By adding 46 seats through open enrollment, the district will generate about $300,000 in additional revenue. It also stashed away $400,000 from the Federal Education Jobs Act fund.

In the long-term, the district was able to lower its post-retirement benefits costs. Future retirement liabilities were reduced from $22 million to $6 million overall through a recent contract agreement with the teachers union.

The began in November and underwent numerous revisions. The proposal approved by the board on Monday will move for approval at the district’s annual meeting, which will begin at 6:15 p.m. Sept. 12. The meeting will be held in the auditorium to accommodate the residents who may choose to attend.

The purpose of the annual meeting is to update the community on the state of the school district, and to allow the public to share its views on the budget. The budget will not be final until the district's property tax levy is certified in November.

The complete budget proposal is attached on the article page as a PDF file.

Verycynical August 24, 2011 at 01:53 PM
Craig ... we can argue anecdotes until the cows come home. I hope you drew the attention of the administration to the guidance counselors lack of ability and professionalism. If you are telling the truth, that person should be disciplined. That one instance, however, doesn't argue against research, facts, history, and common sense. I might argue, for example, that your guidance counselor incident was the result of not enough guidance counselors to handle a large student population. I might also argue that it isn't the sole job of guidance counselors to do high school schedules, but instead to help young people plan their futures. My point is we know what works to help kids have the opportunities to succeed. We aren't doing what we need to do to make that happen. Instead, we talk about our taxes, dead weight, and cutting programs and services. If it doesn't work -- and the research proves it -- don't do it. As you said, we need to focus on education, and willy-nilly cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid to schools over two decades ... in order to pretend we balanced the state budget and saved us all from a pretend catastrophe .... isn't the way to do what you and I both want to do.
Craig August 24, 2011 at 03:02 PM
When someone can formulate a plan that will make education better we all can determine what price we are willing to pay. The current methodology is not working, and the growing administrative positions are just a waste. There were 7 Guidance people last year serving half of the students when I was there. In 1983 we had three. My kid graduated with 29 college credits, and is going on to pre med. Never once did a Guidance person meet with her about future plans. They may be busy working with the problem kids, and maybe THAT is the issue that needs to be addressed. Guidance also was supposed to inform kids about scholarships offered by CMH who were interested in the medical field- they only informed one student! Teacher's found out about it and (on the last day) told those students who they knew were looking into the profession. The teachers got the deadline to file extended so all students could have the opportunity. Seven Guidance people- one student....draw your own conclusions on that one. I would be happy to spend more money on the schools if it makes a difference, the focus needs to shift to the kids and not growing the administration. The mamby pamby rules allow for students and sometimes parents who don't care to stay there. Certainly this needs to change to have a positive effect. Should we move all disruptive students to another building? Whatever the answers are- we haven't found them yet.
Verycynical August 24, 2011 at 04:42 PM
Craig: I'm still not sure I buy your "story" but I don't have any reason to disbelieve you. If that is the case, then something went wrong. That doesn't, in the least, indicate that the administration is needed and isn't superfluous as you claim. If run like a business, as so many misguided folks often claim, our schools would have many more mid-level managers. That aside I think, in general, I agree with you. We need a system of school funding that meets the needs of kids. We need to determine what is needed ... I would say, at the least, highly effective teachers, universal quality pre-school, challenging courses, and equitably distributed resources for every child in the state ... and then devise a funding system to make it happen by equitably sharing the tax burden among individuals and businesses. Such a system exists and it is called the adequacy model. Let's work together to make it happen.
Verycynical August 24, 2011 at 04:43 PM
I forgot .... good luck to your daughter.
Disappointed September 12, 2011 at 03:51 PM
I am certainly late in the game on commenting but I decided in February to look at Open Enrollment in other districts due to the numerous problems in the M.Falls school district, from poor test scores, teachers with poor attitudes, seemily lack of control of students bullying and lack of programs in place. I moved her a few years ago and on the advice of co-workers M.Falls was the best. I have not seen that at all. I am sure that the AP students and those with high GPA are doing great and now have even more. It is the unfortunate handling of the average student that they allow to fall through the cracks that led me to leave. I gave them every chance through communicating to make me believe this was the best education, but I found excuse after excuse not solutions for improvement. I was truly saddened by reading the power point presentation on minorities and the difference in how they did on test scores. My other children survived M. Falls, private, public charter, open enrollment etc. There are numerous better choices than waiting for the school district to fix their problems while my child education slips away. So they will pay more through open enrollment for my child to attend another district than I pay in taxes, irony, truly irony.

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