Taxpayers in the Sun Prairie Area School District will see their school-purpose mill rate drop 3.8 percent from $13.06 to $12.56, if the SPASD 2020-21 Budget is approved as presented.

The Sun Prairie School Board held its hearing on the proposed 2020-21 SPASD Budget during its Monday, July 27 meeting.

If the proposed mill rate is enacted, school purpose taxes on a $300,000 property will drop from $3,918 to $3,768.

The budget, which is calculated based on a net student enrollment increase of 55 students, includes a combined levy increase of $2.3 million, or 3.4 percent, and a total levy of $71.4 million.

Among the features in the proposed budget:

COLA increases. All educators will be receiving a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) increase of $726 or 1.81% of the current base. In addition, educators who completed 24 hours of professional development will earn an additional $550 salary increase. The estimated salary increase is $1.1 million.

In addition, as part of the $5 million exceed the revenue limit referendum, teachers below the Dane County average teacher pay will receive extra compensation. The estimated salary increase is $1.6 million.

The budget also includes all SPASD support staff receiving a step increase of 1.81% COLA increase. The estimated salary increase is $236,000.

Administrative personnel will also receive a 1.81 percent COLA increase, or $82,704. A budget has been established to get administrators who are below the Dane County average to the average over the next three years ($67,000).

Administrative support pay increases. Hourly administrative support personnel will get a step increase of 1.81 percent, or $9,775, while salaried administrative support will receive the same percentage, totaling $131,882.

No health insurance, Wisconsin Retirement System or dental insurance increases for 2021. Due to a successful bid in 2018, the health maintenance organization (HMO) health insurance premium will stay the same for 2021. Employees can choose either the HMO or Point of Service (POS) plan. Employees pay the difference above the HMO if they choose the POS plan.

According to SPASD Director of Business and Finance Phil Frei, not increasing health insurance saved the district $660,000 in premium and short-term borrowing costs.

Planning for Sun Prairie West High School. The estimated operational costs for the new school in the budget will be $6 million, with $5 million included in the exceed the revenue cap referendum. The district plans to cover $333,000 of the $1 million different by increasing fund balance in each year leading up to the school opening, and using designated funds when the school opens.

‘Fluid’ budget

Because the 2020-21 SPASD Budget is being prepared based on current state law, it will “be a very fluid budget,” Frei said in his budget presentation screencast.

The state Legislature is expected to enact a budget repair bill, but that may not happen until after the Nov. 3 presidential election. If it happens that late, the school board will have to make adjustments in the budget because by law, school districts must finalize their levies by Nov. 1.

If the state reduces revenue (revenue limit, state aid, etc.), SPASD plans to use conserved funds to cover the shortfall in 2020-21 to give the district more time to plan with and react to revised state factors, according to the presentation.

Next steps

The Sun Prairie School Board is expected to act on the proposed 2020-21 SPASD Budget on Monday, Aug. 24, and likely will vote to recommend the levy to electors at the Oct. 5 SPASD Annual Meeting, where the final 2020-21 tax levy will be set. The board is expected to adopt a final version of the budget by Oct. 31.

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