If the operational referendum is approved on April 5th by a majority of district voters, the school portion of resident’s property tax would increase by approximately $137 per year for every $100,000 of property value for five years.
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Why is the District Proposing an Operational Referendum?
Our community values quality schools, retaining highly qualified teachers to support student achievement, and protecting a tradition of excellence.
The District has already reduced expenses, cut $2.9 million in the last five years, and saved $3.3 million by refinancing debt. We cannot continue to provide essential programs and curriculum, effective class sizes, upgrades for technology infrastructure and equipment, and attract/retain teachers within the District’s allowable revenue limit.
The state limits the amount of revenue we can raise annually. Our allowable revenue has not kept pace with inflation since 2011 and state per pupil funding is at 2008-2009 funding levels.
A: School districts have two major revenue sources: local property taxes and state aid. Districts receive minimal federal aid and limited revenue from other sources, but the vast majority of the revenue comes from local taxes and state aid. Monona Grove is primarily funded by local taxes rather than state aid.
A: Like most organizations and companies, salaries and benefits make up the greatest expenditures of a school district. The Monona Grove School District spends 71 percent of its expenditures on salaries and benefits.
A: The State Legislature implemented a system of revenue limits in 1993 in order to keep taxes down. Districts’ revenues were capped at their level of spending in 1993, and adjustments are made to the revenue limit in each biennial budget approved by the legislature.
Revenue limits are perhaps best described in terms of per-student allowable spending. This means the amount of money the state allows a school district to spend per student per year while keeping a balanced budget. Since 1993, revenue limits had increased with inflation (the consumer price index, or CPI), but in each year since 2009-10, the State Legislature has set the limit lower than CPI. This results in challenges for school districts in keeping up with naturally rising costs of goods and services like heat, light, gas, fuel, insurance, etc.
While districts have become more efficient with resources, years of revenue limits have taken their toll. Efficiencies are harder to find and difficult decisions about programming, staffing and class sizes are forced to be made across the state.
A: Oddly, no, and this is a confusing element to the State’s education funding formula. The total dollars to educate students does not change unless the revenue limit per-student dollar amount is adjusted.
The State Legislature may vote to increase state aid without raising the revenue limit. Even an increase in the state budget for education (state aid) may not mean an increase in revenue to each district for operating. Since Monona Grove School District is considered “property rich” – it has high property values in comparison to other parts of the State – we receive less state aid to offset our local property taxes than the majority of school districts across the state.
A: Yes. Property values impact the amount we receive in state aid through a complex, three-tiered formula. Monona Grove is considered a property wealthy community, therefore, we receive limited state aid. A portion of our state aid is reduced (thus increasing our local property taxes) and redistributed to educate children across the state from less affluent communities.
A: The revenue limit is based on the following three factors: Number of students (3 year average of resident enrollment), Base revenue limit (beginning in 1993), and per-pupil dollar increase (set by the Legislature every two years with the biennial budget). Districts’ base revenue in 1993 varied by school district, as did program offerings for students based on what each community valued.
A: If approved by the voters, the $2.6 million, 5-year operational referendum would be used to fill the current annual budget deficit of $852,000 and provide funds needed to sustain and update the following:
Curriculum. The estimated additional funding needs are $275,000 annually.
To maintain and improve current instructional programs by providing updated curriculum and related materials including expansion of 4K-5 classroom library materials, purchase of updated textbooks and course materials, recurring license fees, and new curriculum (e.g. Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and related training for teachers and students to assure improved student achievement.
To allow the MGSD to maintain not only its tradition of providing innovative instructional programs but also rewarding co-curricular opportunities important to building essential student skills.
Technology. The use of technology is critical for today’s learner. The MGSD has identified over $1.9 million in needed equipment for technology in teaching and learning. Annual technology funding is estimated to be $300,000:
To purchase, replace, or upgrade outdated technology equipment (labs & workstations) and infrastructure (wiring in buildings, switches, routers, servers, mobile devices, and computers) essential to student learning.
To purchase student IPads and Chromebooks essential to today’s teaching and learning.
Personnel. The estimated additional funding needs are $450,000 annually.
To fund teaching positions to support critical learning for students of all abilities including those seeking Advanced Placement (AP) courses and students with special needs.
To maintain the MGSD commitment to teaching and learning through ongoing professional development.
To reduce or maintain effective class sizes that contribute to optimal teaching and learning for all students.
To offer competitive compensation to attract and retain our quality teaching and support staff.
Equipment Purchases. The MGSD has identified over $975,000 in deferred equipment purchases. The estimated additional annual funding need is $225,000.
To replace outdated and broken classroom equipment including technical education, student desks and tables, cafeteria tables, physical education equipment, and musical instruments.
To purchase equipment essential to the MGSD co-curricular programs.
Facility Maintenance. A District-wide assessment by professional architects and engineers has identified over $14 million in building maintenance needs. Facility needs have been delayed/postponed in order to focus limited revenue on the most critical needs for programs, curriculum and student instruction. The estimated annual funding of $500,000 is necessary to address a variety of needs including safety, security, window replacement, parking lots, roofing needs, boilers, HVAC, and controls.
Note: The above projected annual budget amounts are “estimates.” The actual allocations will be determined by the Monona Grove School Board at its annual budget deliberations.
A. No, the tax increase does not keep adding on top of the prior years. For example, if you are currently paying $1,000 a year in school property taxes and the referendum is approved and your property value is $100,000, the approximate tax increase would be $137 added to your school property taxes totaling $1,137. For the next four years, if school levy rate stayed the same, your school property taxes would remain at $1,137. After 5 years, if a new referendum is not brought back to the voters and approved, the approximate school tax increase of $137 would fall off the taxes.
A. The district's financial position changes annually based on the state financial aid and imposed revenue limits, enrollment changes, general inflation, market demands to retain teachers, and unanticipated needs and expenditures. The administration and Board currently evaluates and responds to these factors with each annual budget. However, if voters approve the April 5th referendum it will (a) reduce the backlog of our most pressing needs, and put us in a more favorable financial condition, (b) offer the legislature two biennial state budgets to support public education and reduce reliance on the local property tax, and (c) allow the Monona Grove School Board to re-examine its future needs, revenue and expenditures consistent with its mission and strategic plan. If at that time, when the referendum expires in 2020-21, the District's financial position still requires additional funding to maintain the level of excellence expected by our communities, the Monona Grove School Board may consider another referendum for voter approval.
A. The Monona Grove School Board chose to use $852,000 from the Fund Balance to maintain both our quality teaching & support staff and educational programs. However, to use the Fund Balance is not sustainable or advisable over time.