Acting on a recommendation from district staff, the Sun Prairie School Board on May 26 approved a 2020-21 Fund 80 budget totaling $730,035 that will include the addition of a sixth community school site and a facilities rental manager.
Of that total, the district will levy $614,000 and use some carryover funding in addition to roughly $90,000 contributed by the City of Sun Prairie for the $730,035 amount.
According to a memo to the board from Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) Business & Finance Director Phil Frei and Community Schools Manager Jamie Racine, the Community Service Fund Levy is used to fund programs and services that are not regular educational programs but rather serve a broader, more community oriented purpose.
The memo states that activities in the Community Service Fund are not limited to students enrolled in the District’s PK‐12 educational programs. Additionally, the state does not share in the cost of these programs or services as there is a separate tax levy to support these activities.
The SPASD established a Fund 80 five years ago.
The new community school site will be Northside Elementary. The total increase to the Community Schools budget is $115,005, of which, $70,000 is for the addition of Northside.
In addition, a facility rental coordinator, proposed to start September 1, 2020, will deal with the tremendous demand for facility use that is only expected to increase with the addition of the new Bank of Sun Prairie Stadium at Ashley Field. The new position will coordinate the work of facility use and rentals to provide coordination and better serve those who use SPASD facilities.
The tax levy for 2019-20 was $447,354 and is projected to be $614,000 for 2020-21.
During the meeting, Racine showed a PowerPoint about Sun Prairie Community Schools, but board member Caren Diedrich wanted more.
“I would really like hard data . . . do we have any of that anywhere?” Diedrich asked, referring to hard data about how community schools impact students.
Assistant Superintendent of Teaching, Learning & Equity Stephanie Leonard-Witte said the district has national statistics about the impact of community schools.
Not all the impacts of community schools are data-driven, argued Sun Prairie School Board President Steve Schroeder, who said he believed community schools were making positive impacts in students’ lives.
Diedrich said people might be thinking she is a “crazy nasty girl” but “I just want a little harder data.”
Board member Dave Hoekstra agreed with Diedrich that Sun Prairie Community Schools needs to present more metrics to measure the success of its programming.
“I think Community Schools is a good thing,” Hoekstra said, adding that he hopes to start seeing some great results.
Board Vice President Tom Weber said he also favored Sun Prairie Community Schools, but said he would like to see some expansion of programs for children in the birth to 5-year-old age range.
“We know from studies that birth to 5 is just so important,” Weber said, adding that he wants the district to close the achievement gap, and reaching kids early is one way to begin to close the gap.
Board members unanimously approved the Fund 80 budget for the 2020-21 school year.