Sun Prairie Area School District electors on Monday night, Oct. 4, approved a 2021-22 tax levy of $69,274,324 during the annual electors meeting at Sun Prairie High School. That translates to a 2021-22 school purpose levy of $11.61, or an 8.9 % decrease from last year’s school-purpose mill rate of $12.75.

Electors set the levy after a presentation by SPASD Director of Business & Finance Phil Frei, who recounted multiple presentations on the 2021-22 SPASD Budget, including a July 26 public hearing and an Aug. 23 recommendation from the board to the Annual Electors Meeting.

Frei did say, however, that the final decision to set the levy rests with the Sun Prairie School Board after Oct. 15 (the board won’t take any action until its Oct. 25 meeting). That’s because on Oct. 15, the Department of Public Instruction will share figures about the district’s property value increase. The levy approved by electors includes a budget calculated with a 6% property value increase, but Frei said he heard on Oct. 4 that number could be 6.5%.

But the budget was also calculated using a 50 student increase in the Third Friday Count of the SPASD’s student population. The actual SPASD Third Friday Count showed a decrease of 35 students.

Other electors action

Electors also approved:

• Setting the School Board President’s annual salary at $6,000 and the other board member salaries at $5,000;

• Authorized reimbursement of board member expenses incurred in the performance of their duties;

• Heard a report from Board Treasurer Dave Hoekstra that copies of the SPASD’s annual audit report will be available beginning Nov. 30, 2021 at the SPASD office at 501 S. Bird St., and online;

• Authorized the Sun Prairie School Board to set the date for the 2022 Annual Electors Meeting.

• Enjoyed cake after the meeting in honor of School Board Appreciation Week.

Board to reconsider hazardous areas

Also revealed during the meeting: the Sun Prairie School Board will revisit the unusually hazardous bus and walk route designations adopted by the board on Monday, Sept. 27.

Board President Steve Schroeder wrote a letter to grade 6-12 parents announcing the decision on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

“Over the past week and weekend, I have been reflecting on this vote and this plan. After talking with Bryn Horton, Vice President, we’ve decided that we need feedback from caregivers and students. We failed to do that,” Schroeder wrote.

“One of our four strategic plan priorities is Community Engagement, and we did not engage stakeholders in this process leading up to the administration’s recommendation and ultimately the board’s final approval,” Schroeder said.

That point was also raised by Sun Prairie School Board Member Alwyn Foster during the Sept. 27 meeting, but seemed to be disregarded by some board members on the way to the board’s 4-2 vote to approve the routes. But Superintendent Brad Saron announced the decision during Monday night’s annual electors meeting as he was updating progress on the district’s strategic plan and promising to update it in 2021.

Saron referred to the letter from Schroeder in explaining the decision to revisit the routes and seek more community input by working with the City of Sun Prairie’s Pedestrian Safety Task Force.

“As president of the school [board], I am asking the administration to take this plan to caregivers and students and solicit feedback,” Schroeder wrote in the letter. “I am also requesting the school district work with the City of Sun Prairie’s Pedestrian Safety Committee. The SPASD prides itself on its relationship with the City of Sun Prairie, and this is yet another opportunity for us to work collaboratively to make this community safer.

“I have received assurance from Dr. Saron that his team . . . solicit feedback from caregivers and students,” Schroeder added. “As a school district, and personally, as a school board member, we do not always get it right. But we believe in continually improving and we will do just that.”

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