Information on Antigo School District
The question asked frequently in the news has been: is the educational system broken – I would reframe the question to ask: can citizens and our elected officials find a reasoned financial method and the will to meet the educational needs of not only current students, but those of the future? Family, business, private and public service, health care, and education are at the heart of strong communities.
A history of our local and state education financial decisions has had significant consequences for Antigo’s present financial status. In the late 80’s and early 90’s the Antigo school board practiced a conservative spending pattern which established a low baseline of revenue. That low baseline of spending, a gradual decline in enrollment, and low property values set the stage for a limited allowable revenue spending cap. Years have passed since the state legislature enacted what was meant to be a short term resolution – an educational spending revenue cap or limit for individual districts. This mandatory cap was based exactly on a district’s 1992-1993 expenses. The plan and intent was good - to halt the growth of property taxes. It was not intended as a long term funding mechanism. There has been a range of new proposals to fund education.
Due to a fixed revenue cap and growth in expenses over the 17 years, the district has had an imbalance between revenue and expenses. With limited funding, fixed expenses in utilities, and multiple buildings built in the 60’s with capital improvement needs, the challenges have been significant.
The school board anticipates less revenue in the future and is committed to addressing both the educational and financial needs with a long term stabilization plan.
Background and facts about the school district
· Antigo is one of the largest school districts geographically in the state covering 540 square miles. Our geography, sparse student population areas, and location of the rural schools results in a double bussing system and duplication of operational expenses.
o Examples of duplicated services include: food service, library staff and collections, technology licenses/equipment, nursing, special education, counseling, traveling staff for music, art, and physical education.
· The district serves 2,572 students whose families reside in 19 municipalities primarily in Langlade County but also Shawano and Marathon counties requiring coordination of governance and services with three differing emergency and health and human service systems for public health, protective services, juvenile court services, and emergency ambulance/safety planning.
· Antigo has nine school buildings and operates the Antigo Aquatic center. The Antigo High School has an enrollment of 912, the Middle School 494, and the combined elementary enrollment (K-5) is 1,046 located in 7 school sites – 3 in the city and 4 in rural locations. All seven elementary schools are small with a range in enrollment from a low of 102 to a high of 211. We also serve 108 four year olds and 12 students in a virtual program.
· Based on birth statistics, enrollment is projected to stabilize in 2014-2015 at about 2,300 students.
· As enrollment declines five schools have been closed. The most recent closure was River Grove elementary with 61 students reassigned to Spring Valley with a current enrollment of 106 or to Pleasant View that has 137 students.
· When a school was closed, the school board has been able to dispose of the different properties: Lily and River Grove were sold for private use, Aniwa sold at a low cost to the Village of Aniwa for community use, a charter school is now a day care center, and the Kindergarten Center was under a lease with St. Hyacinth’s church.
What else has been done to reduce operational expenses and to balance the budget?
· Over the last five years the budget has balanced by making reductions totaling $3.9 million dollars.
· Since 2004-05 a reduction of 63.8 employees has been done.
These reductions have had an impact on students with greater elementary inequities and program reductions, larger classes in some elementary sites, multi grade and content teaching at the Middle level, course reductions and fewer class sections at the High school.
General Finance Information
· The annual revenue cap (how much is in the budget) is set by the state and based on both numbers of students enrolled and a formula that only Albert Einstein and Mary Jo Filbrandt truly understand. It has increased less than 1% over the last two years which is about $89,000.
· School income is a combination of two sources: a tax levy and state aids. Antigo is state aided at 65% with the remainder of our budget coming from the tax levy and grants. About $9 million comes from our tax levy. What you pay varies by where you live and your area property values. This year the city taxes were higher due to city property value increasing. Overall property values dropped a little over 1% in our area.
· A new two year state budget was announced on March 1, 2011 which may require additional reductions.
· School District debt on the Middle School will be retired in 13-14.
· The district fund balance is at 14% - $4.8 million dollars.
· Federal dollars – how has Antigo used this money?
For the career and technical education program, special education, start up expenses for a 4 year old kindergarten, and supplies for individual schools.
Stabilization Plan – A Unified Antigo Elementary School
· The Board’s stabilization plan is based on studies completed by facilities and financial planning experts, our own staff, as well as local community groups that have studied and met over a five year period.
· The district is proactively growing our enrollment with 4 K, trying to attract students back from open enrollment, offering virtual classes, and partnering with our neighbors to share costs.
· The board has directed administration to aggressively seek private, federal and state grants to supplement general revenue. An example would be the million dollar grant obtained for district physical education programs to increase student health, address childhood obesity, and increase cardio fitness.
· The long range goal has been to execute a plan for future instructional and economic needs by building one school for operational and instructional efficiency. The plan would decrease overall capital expenses, school buildings to operate, decrease transportation expense, result in overall savings, as well as maximize instructional resources under one roof for elementary age children.