School budget approved in small turnout

by Dave Cary Review Correspondent

Unless there’s a hot topic, school district annual meetings tend to be lightly attended. Tuesday’s, where voters approved the proposed 2015-16 Plymouth School District budget, was no exception.

The budget calls for total revenues of $22,950,968 with total expenses of $23,125,102, creating a small deficit of $174,134. Business manager Jon Miller said that this had grown out of the electrical project and that the board had planned all along to cover it by using fund balance.

What this will mean to local property taxpayers will be hard to notice. Miller said his projections were for a second straight year of decreasing tax rate — only this year’s projected drop is from $8.69 per thousand of assessed valuation last year to $8.65 this year, a drop of 0.46 percent. Miller termed this a “flat” levy.

Miller said that the all budgets were really estimates and several figures used in them could still change so he would not want to flatly state that the levy would be lower, only that it should be. He felt that budget figures would be within one percent when actual costs are known, and also that efforts to keep costs in line did not relax with passage of a budget but continued all year.

The proposed budget was approved by those present without opposition.

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In other annual meeting business, a motion to keep school board member salaries at the same level as last year also passed. In opposing the motion, board member Richard York — who donates his salary back to the district — said he was making his annual plea to make this service voluntary.

Board President Tim St. Clair said that the hot lunch program had a difficult year, going some $16,929 into the red. This had reduced the program’s fund balance by about one-third, from $53,372 to $36,443.

St. Clair said that this was largely due to federal governmental requirements, one of which he cited as an example had mandated a 10-cent-a-meal price increase.

This, he said, had actually reduced program revenues — which, he said, had been observed with every increase in meal prices — and was only one of a host of federal mandates that reduced local control of the program to a minimum.

Since the board would like to see a selfsustaining operation, he said, with the fund balance left the program could go on as it is for a couple years, but that there could be “serious” discussions at the end of that time.

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In the regular school board meeting -- which followed the annual meeting, the board adopted the 2015-16 Financial pillar -- a part of its overall strategic plan.

The board also accepted a donation of $1,000 from former teacher Helen Schultz’s family. The gift will go toward items needed at Fairview Elementary School.

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Community Education director Kathy Murray briefed the board on the “One book, one community” program - puzzling signs for which have been appearing in the community.

The idea, Murray said, is to have large numbers of people in a community read the same book; this, she said, had been done with popular success in Seattle, Wash. The book chosen for Plymouth’s program is Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman.” Murray said that the library has some 150 copies.

The program will have several events from Oct. 12 through Nov. 13 including book discussions, a screening of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the movie made from Lee’s first novel, and a panel discussion.

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In personnel matters, the board approved a 100 percent contract for Shelly Benedict to teach science and math in grades 7 and 8 at Riverview Middle School. Benedict received her bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and this is her first teaching position.

The board also approved a 100 percent contract for Chad Vigeland to teach English Language Arts at Plymouth High School in the 2015-16 school year. Vigeland received his bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin Madison in English and his teaching license from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. This is his first teaching position.

The board learned that:

• Karen Pohl, special ed aide at Horizon has resigned after four years in the district.

• Amy Ziehm, special ed aide at Riverview has resigned after one year in the district.

• Amber Hartenstein, special ed aide at Riverview has resigned after three years in the district.

• Jennifer Reinhart, technology secretary, has resigned after nine years in the district.

• Amy Donner has been hired as a special ed aide at Horizon.

• Holly Robinson has been hired as a special ed aide at Riv- erview.

• Bethany Holec has been hired as a secretary at PHS.

• Kathy McCabe has been hired as a special ed aide at Fairview.

• Sanora Stout has been hired as a special ed aide at Riverview.

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