During the same Aug. 24 meeting that Sun Prairie School Board members recommended the 2020-21 budget to the Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) Annual Electors Meeting, the board also approved a $318,000 purchase of staff laptops from Paragon Development Systems.
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 recommended to the Annual Electors Meeting is adopted in October. 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.
SPASD Director of Business and Finance Phil Frei said the current enrollment of students shows a figure below that 55 student increase number, but he said he is not worried about the budget because of budget stabilization funding added last year.
Because the 2020-21 SPASD Budget is being prepared based on current state law, it will “be a very fluid budget,” Frei told the board.
“This year, it’s very difficult to build a budget,” remarked Janet Rosseter, SPASD Assistant Superintendent for Business & Operations Continuous Improvement.
Among the features in the recommended 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.
Frei has said in the past that 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.
The board action forwards the tax levy to the Oct. 5 SPASD Annual Electors 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.
Curt Mould, SPASD Director of Digital Media, Innovation and Strategy, wrote in a memo to the board that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in global delays in the production of technology equipment.
In addition, a record number of requests for mobile solutions — due to the need to work from home — has impacted both production and inventory of devices. That situation has impacted Sun Prairie schools, according to Mould.
Laptops previously approved for purchase are no longer available for delivery until November 2020.
“New laptops are available and in inventory with our local distributor and can be delivered the week of August 24,” Mould wrote. “This represents an increase in price beyond the $250,000 threshold and, therefore, is presented for board action. This purchase represents the fourth quote for staff laptop devices.”
The $318,000 cost includes an additional warranty and rack ‘n’ roll services, according to Mould.
Board members approved the purchase without discussion.