For the past year, Denmark School Board members have been discussing the possibility of an operating referendum beginning with the 2013-14 school year. It is with reluctance that the Denmark School Board is asking residents for additional tax dollars, as they are well aware there are a number of residents having a difficult time meeting daily expenses without additional taxes. However, school board members are elected to preserve and enhance the education of students while also being fiscally prudent. Sometimes these efforts are in conflict with one another.
The Denmark School Board did vote unanimously on January 14, 2013, to move forward with a three- year referendum to exceed the revenue limit on April 2, 2013. The Board is seeking $960,000 for 2013-14, $970,000 for 2014-15 and $980,000 for the 2015-16 school year.
We ask that residents engage in discussions and seek information pertaining to this important issue. If you have comments or questions, please call District Administrator Tony Klaubauf at 920-863-4005 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Denmark School District will have an informational meeting on
Tuesday, March 5
at the Denmark Middle School Library
to answer questions and allow input on the April 2nd, 2013 referendum. There will be an update of the referendum and other
financial information provided by Mike Clark, consultant with R.W. Baird.
Following the presentation, Denmark School Board members and administration will be available to meet with the public in small groups.
Referendum Fact Brochure
Referendum Fact Newsletter
Budget Reductions and Cuts since 2004-05
Below are some questions and answers concerning the referendum.
Q. What has been accomplished by district students either in support of the Denmark area, or in scholastic performance, to warrant the support of the community?
A. Here is a partial list of items:
In cooperation with the Denmark VFW and Legion, a group of high school students constructed an addition onto the Veteran’s Shelter for the Denmark/Maribel Community Cupboard to allow a place for storage.
Many student groups collect money and food items every year for the Community Cupboard to help those less fortunate in our area.
Students from the HS Construction class, with the help from a NWTC instructor, helped build the electronic sign for non-profits and businesses to advertise on as people enter our Village.
The Denmark FFA program is one of the largest in the State of Wisconsin and many students are recognized both locally and at the state and national levels. This year, Denmark Graduate Joanna Wavrunek is serving as a State FFA Officer.
A group of fifth graders at Denmark Elementary recently finished first in the State of Wisconsin in the “Knowledge Master Open Winter Contest.”
The Denmark Dance Team competed at the State level on February 2, 2013.
The Denmark Jazz Band went to State competition FIVE years in a row!
Denmark had the highest percentage of students in the Bay Conference who scored at proficient or advanced in Mathematics on the 2011 State Test at the 4th and 8th grade levels.
The Denmark Early Childhood Center and Elementary School are among six schools in the state recognized by the Wisconsin RTI Center for promising practices responding to students’ needs through intervention and enrichment.
Students with challenges and unique learning styles are provided a safe, caring and enriching environment by the Special Education staff and other faculty of the district.
Parents and students who wish to have personalized learning in a multi-age setting can enroll in the Denmark Community School starting in 7th grade.
Tiffany Polzin finished No. 1 in the State and will represent the State of Wisconsin in the annual VFW Patriot's Pen National Essay Competition in Washington DC.
The Sting Cancer group has helped numerous families in the Denmark Community with financial and emotional support as loved ones have battled cancer.
Besides many students successfully competing in athletics, many students excel in the district musical, plays, academic competitions and forensics.
Students from Denmark High School are participating in the Brown County Teen Leadership program working on the prevention of suicide.
Q. Why do some districts in our area need additional revenue and others do not?
A. For 20 years, districts have been locked into revenue/spending limits. Those districts that were low spending districts, like Denmark, were permanently locked into low spending from that point forward. Districts that spent a greater amount per student were also locked into a higher rate of spending. Twenty years ago, most districts were at least growing modestly. Increasing student enrollments helped districts maintain programs, as more students equaled more revenue. In the past ten years, the majority of schools have been declining in enrollment. In addition to budget cuts, low spending districts have asked voters to approve referendums to exceed the revenue/spending limits. Since the year 2000, there have been 739 referendums to exceed the revenue limit from districts around the state. There are 67 schools going to referendum in February or April of 2013, with about half of these schools seeking to exceed the revenue limit. The gap continues to widen between the districts who have necessary resources and those that do not.
Q. Why does Denmark specifically need additional dollars in the future to meet budgetary demands?
A. One area in which the district needs additional monies is for the buses, new blacktop and two boilers. In 2001, the district leased to purchase six buses. While that enhanced the bus fleet greatly at that time, this left a huge budgetary hole to fill as these buses come to the end of their useful life. We will need to purchase or lease new buses in the very near future. Bus prices have risen significantly over the past 10 years. Manufacturers are telling the district the cost will soon be approximately $100,000 each. The blacktop at the Early Childhood Center; the south, southeast, and north sides of the Middle School; the Elementary School playground; and the north side of the Elementary School needs replacing. These areas are becoming unsafe for walking and in some cases for children to play. The total cost will be around $300,000 for the replacement this blacktop. The ECC boilers need to be replaced at a cost of close to $100,000. The boilers have a life expectancy of 15-18 years and they are already 20 years old. The cost of all these items is approximately $1,000,000. The rest of the referendum money will be used to maintain the programs we currently have.
Besides these specific needs, the district has additional costs in improving our technology infrastructure as well as purchasing technology to meet the needs of 21st century learners. The district also has ongoing capital projects to improve energy efficiency, such as the replacement of windows and lighting. Security has also become a heightened concern lately and the district will be installing more security measures to protect students while at school.
R.W. Baird, a financial consulting firm, has software specifically designed for each school district to predict future budgetary needs. Even with the referendum passing, the Baird model forecasts the Denmark School District will still have to make budgetary reductions of over $200,000 in 2014-15 and $500,000 in 2015-16 to balance the district’s budget.
Q. Why haven’t the changes provided by the State last year provided the district with more discretion with spending?
A. The changes did help the district balance the budget for the 2011-12 school year. Employees now pay half of their retirement and higher insurance premiums. The district changed the health insurance plan for the 2011-12 and the 2012-13 school years including higher deductibles. The district is also changing insurance companies as of July 1, 2013, which will save significant dollars. However, most of these changes helped balance the budget for the 2011-12 school year only. The district is budgeting $600,000 out-of-fund balance just to make ends meet for the 2012-13 school year. At this time, the State does not provide enough aid or revenue limit authority for districts to meet even inflationary costs into future years.
Q. Why not just cut expenses instead of asking for more dollars?
A. Since the 2004-05 school year, the district has cut over $2.5 million from the budgets. These have been from administrative, teaching, and para-professional positions. In addition, bus routes have been cut, the food service program no longer has any district employees, and some of the cleaning staff has been out-sourced to save money. The School Board believes more reductions will result in a decline in the quality education that Denmark provides. Right now, 76 more students attend our district than leave our district due to open enrollment. This provides $493,456 in additional revenue because parents believe the district provides a high quality education. If parents believe the district will not support a high quality education, less parents will choose to open enroll their children into our district and, quite possibly, more parents will seek out other schools in neighboring districts.
From paragraph above:
(R.W. Baird, a financial consulting firm, has software specifically designed for each school district to predict future budgetary needs. Even with the referendum passing, the Baird model forecasts the Denmark School District will still have to make budgetary reductions of over $200,000 in 2014-15 and $500,000 in 2015-16 to balance the district’s budget.)
Q. What is the tax impact if this referendum passes?
A. For the 2012-13 school year, taxpayers paid $9.54 per $1,000 of property value or $954 per $100,000. The projected mil rate for the 2013-14 school year, should the referendum pass, will be $10.16 per $1,000 or $1,016 for $100,000 of property value. This will be very close to the mil rate for the 2011-12 school year. The tax impact will be somewhat mitigated by the Middle School building debt being completed during this year. All referendum debt will be fully paid off at the end of the 2016-17 school year.
The increase on $100,000 of property value would be approximately $65 per year for the next three years.
Q. Will the district ask for more money in future years?
A. That is difficult to answer. The School Board was hoping the State would support at least the increase to inflation each year. That presently is not occurring. The elected Denmark School Board members will continue to be fiscally prudent yet provide a high quality education as we prepare students to compete in the global workforce and to be responsible citizens.
Q. What happens if this referendum fails?
A. Some very difficult decisions will have to be made regarding district expenses. Some of the facility upgrades, like blacktopping, will have to continue to be on hold. While the School Board made a decision last year to maintain the bus fleet, a decision will have to be made if that is financially feasible for the future. Staffing is where 75-80% of expenses are with any district. Cutting staff will add to the duties of those remaining and result in larger class sizes. Right now, class sizes at the elementary and middle school range from 20 - 24 in the primary grades, to in the range of 25-27 from 4th to 8th grade. At the high school, there are numerous classes having 25-29 students, in addition, 15 classes have 30 students or more during the 2012 - 13 school year. (However, some elective classes at the MS and HS have less than 20 students)
Cutting entire programs will have to be looked at, with the possibility of this negatively impacting student enrollment.
Q. Is it true, as was printed in the Green Bay newspaper, the Denmark School District employs substitute teachers at $63,054 in salary and $33,360 in benefits?
A. No, that is totally false. Our substitutes make about $100 per day with no benefits. If we have long-term substitutes, the district pays approximately $140 per day with no benefits. The district does not know what information the newspaper used in obtaining this information. The newspaper did not fact check the information. There are retired teachers, who now substitute for the district, at $100 per day, who may have made $63,054.00 upon retirement, but they are not paid anymore than the rest of the substitute teachers.
Q. If the district did not use $900,000 from the last referendum from 2008, why aren’t those dollars saved and available for use now?
A. The School Board sets the tax levy in the fall of each year. During those 3 years, the country was going through a recession and some changes were forced upon districts from the State level. The School Board, to avoid significantly higher taxes at that time, decided not to use the full amount of the referendum. The district continued to reduce expenses and the federal government supplied money to each of the States to offset some of the educational cuts. The $900,000 was never assessed to taxpayers – therefore it was never placed in the district fund balance.