The Sun Prairie School Board on Oct. 26 gave final approval to the 2020-21 budget and increased the school-purpose tax levy to $71,753,551 and a school-purpose mill rate of $12.75 per $1,000 of valuation.

For an average value ($299,400) home in the City of Sun Prairie, that translates to $3,817.35 in school-purpose property taxes on their upcoming property tax bill.

Sun Prairie Area School District Director of Business & Finance Phil Frei said the increase is due to a number of factors, but the two primary ones are lower amounts than estimated for equalized aid ($192,316) and a greater cost for private school vouchers ($251,175).

On Oct. 5, the SPASD held its Annual Meeting and final public hearing on the budget at Sun Prairie High School, but since the Annual Meeting, enrollment, equalized state aid and equalized property value have all been verified.

Revenue adjustments since the Annual Meeting include:

• The Revenue Limit Worksheet was adjusted with the 3rd Friday and summer school membership. The Revenue Limit decreased approximately $190,000 from estimates. Summer school membership decreased by 105 students. The 3rd Friday membership decreased by 39 students compared to the increase of 55 budgeted for.

“This accounts for the decrease in the Revenue Limit,” Frei wrote in his memo to the board. Membership also includes all open enrollment-out students (SPASD students attending other districts) and subtracts all open enrollment-in students (students residing in other districts who receive their education in Sun Prairie). Student enrollment decreased by 97 students.

• Achievement Gap Reduction funds were decreased by $48,600 due to less Free & Reduced enrollment at Westside and CH Bird schools.

• Open enrollment-in students was increased by $164,565 to reflect the 3rd Friday open enrolled students.

• A $215,545 increase to revenue accounts for the short-term borrowing premium received.

• Per pupil aid was reduced by $29,680 to reflect the lower enrollment of 3rd Friday.

• Equalized aid decreased by $192,316 based on the state formula.

• Property taxes increased slightly by $27,530 due to less equalized aid

Major Expense Adjustments since the Annual Meeting include:

• A $367,851 increase in the open enrollment account due to the higher number of open enrollment students leaving the district.

• A $21,700 increase in the 4 Year Old Kindergarten (4K) payment to daycare centers due to the higher enrollment of 4K students.

• A $30,000 reduction in school supply budgets due to lower enrollment.

• A $30,000 increase to the independent charter school account for district students who attend independent charter schools.

• An increase of $251,175 for private school voucher students.

• A decrease of $300,000 in the transportation fund due to savings in busing.

In addition, a $66,314 shortfall in revenue is budgeted for. The shortfall will be covered by designated budget stabilization funds, according to materials prepared for the board.

The $281,175 in charter school and school voucher payments being made by the district is not lost on board members.

Board member Bryn Horton said the figure was significant when compared to years past. “I think that’s an important point to note,” she added.

Both Board Vice President Tom Weber and Board Clerk Carol Sue Albright agreed, noting the cost of the voucher schools.

The 2020-21 school year budget has been in the planning stages since December 2019 and will conclude in December 2021 with the presentation of the annual audit report. The audit essentially evaluates the effectiveness of the planning, monitoring, and execution of the budget.

In October, the final outstanding budget components are known and the district adopts the 2020-21 Original Budget.

Board members adopted the budget and set the levy in two separate but unanimous votes.

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