While Sun Prairie Area School District taxpayers will have a good news-bad news scenario, one district resident on July 29 complained there is not enough transparency when it comes to certain expenditures the board approves.
Town of Sun Prairie resident Roger Fetterly complained during the Sun Prairie School Board’s budget hearing held in the library at Sun Prairie High School on Monday that there was not enough information in the budget presentation relating to Fund 26.
“It’s kind of important information for the public to know how much money we have floating around the school district,” Fetterly told the board and district administration on hand for the hearing.
Fetterly also said that $475,000 was charged last year to district credit cards. “You just gave it blanket approval,” Fetterly told the board, adding that he has yet to hear any board member question the credit card charges.
He also said one principal uses credit cards to purchase $100 gift cards from local businesses. “There’s no follow up on that,” Fetterly said. “How do you know how that money is being spent?”
“To say that we don’t know how the money is being spent is a complete (fabrication),” Sun Prairie School Board President Steve Schroeder replied, reminding Fetterly that it was a budget hearing.
Fetterly replied that the budget information was what he was responding to. He also said that when he was on the board, just two members of the board could travel to the National School Board Convention. That has changed, he said, because the district spent more than $15,000 on airfare and registration to attend the event.
“You are spending a tremendous amount on yourselves and I don’t see any increase in performance,” Fetterly commented, adding that he was disappointed in how much money is being spent by the district.
Board member Dave Hoekstra pointed out the initial levy of $1.29 for the construction referendum has been decreased by 40 cents to 89 cents.
Hoekstra said that while the SPASD was conservative in its levy estimates, a $230 school-purpose tax increase on a median valued home in the district “is going to hit some people.”
The board and district administration need to remain aware of the tax impacts, Hoekstra said.
Hoekstra also said he wants to see a mill rate comparison between Sun Prairie and other similarly sized districts.
“Other than that,” Hoekstra added, “I think it’s good news that we’re not projecting as large of an increase that we were.”
In a related item, SPASD Director of Business & Finance Phil Frei said, as initially projected, that the district will save $49 million because of interest rates it received for its $90 million borrowing.
According to Frei, the 2.74 percent interest rate – instead of the projected 4.75 percent rate at the time of the referendum – will result in the $49 million in interest cost savings for taxpayers.
“Excellent news,” Schroeder said. “Huge news for taxpayers.”
Also in a related item, the board approved budget transfers, including:
• $900,000 increase to Fund 46.
• $300,000 allocation of Fund Balance for “property acquisition.”
• $300,000 allocation of Fund Balance for “budget stabilization.”
• $200,000 allocation of Fund Balance for “potential health insurance tax.”
• Approximately $2,000,000 of conserved funds will go into unassigned Fund Balance.
Relating to future 2019-20 budget deliberations, Frei said the timeline includes:
August 12 or 26 -- School Board acts on Proposed Budget.
October 7 -- SPASD holds Annual Meeting of Electors to set tax levy.
By October 31 – Sun Prairie School Board adopts budget.
First Bullying Task Force meeting, school board meetings set
Schroeder announced the first meeting of the SPASD Task Force on Student Behavior and Bullying is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. in the library at Sun Prairie High School, located at 888 Grove St., on Monday, Aug. 19.
Other upcoming Sun Prairie School Board meetings include a closed session Aug. 5 expulsion hearing; an Aug. 12 Sun Prairie School Board meeting in Room 100 at the SPASD offices, located at 501 S. Bird St.; and an Aug. 26 regularly scheduled Sun Prairie School Board meeting in the Council Chambers at the Sun Prairie Municipal Building at 300 E. Main St. in downtown Sun Prairie.
The board will also participate in the Opening Day Convocation for most district staffers and new employees on Tuesday, Aug. 27 in the Performing Arts Center at Sun Prairie High School. The convocation will be split into two sessions – one at 7:30 a.m. and one at 11:30 a.m.