Superintendent's Message 10/23/2017

Superintendent's Message by Dr. Kelly T. Burhop
Posted on 10/23/2017
Dr. Kelly T. Burhop, Superintendent

Last year I ended this informational article on the upcoming tax levy with the following statement:  “Three things that help maintain a high level of state aid and a lower tax levy are low property values, a high student count, and increased shared costs.  The District has all three of those things for this levy cycle.  For 2017-18, the district’s property values have increased significantly, the 2016-17 student population has decreased by 27 students from last year, and because the District paid off debt last year, the shared costs will decrease automatically.  In short, I am projecting a tax levy increase for 2017-18 that will most likely match the tax levy decrease of this current year.”  

Due to a payment of $416,000 of debt in 2015-16, the district’s shared costs were elevated and the district was aided by the state at a higher level.  Therefore, the tax cut for 2016-17 was a one year cut. The 2017-18 tax levy is $1,651,110 for operations and $428,550 for a referendum debt payment for a total tax levy of $2,079,660.  This is an increase of 16.2% from last year and is an increase of 9.2% from the 2015-16 levy.  The 2017-18 mill rate of $10.37 is an increase of 14% from last year but is a decrease of 1.6% from the 2015-16 mill rate.  Changes on your own personal property tax bill will vary depending on your local municipality’s property valuation changes.   

The revenue control formula put in place by the state legislature determines how much revenue a school district can receive through state aid and its property tax levy.  The higher amount of state aid will lead to a lower tax levy.  The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District has declining enrollment.  The District is currently graduating classes in the upper forties to lower fifties and has had enrollment in the four and five-year-old kindergarten programs in the upper thirties and lower forties.   By having fewer students, this means the School District will receive less state aid.

State aid is also driven by property valuations and shared costs.  The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton’s property valuations have increased.  The more property rich a District is, the less state aid it will receive.  As far as spending, the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District spent within .002% of its budget last year, decreasing its fund balance by $25,651.  The overspending was due to paying $65,000 for IT equipment funded by E-Rate and TEACH in 2016-17, and the revenues will not be received or booked until this current 2017-18 fiscal year.  There is an overall decrease of 5.16% or $295,569 in state aid for the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District this fiscal year.

As the District Administrator, I will be proposing a balanced budget to the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton Board of Education.  The total operational budget of $10,936,944 has increased by approximately $245,000 for 2017-18.  There is a zero increase in the School District’s revenue limit.  Revenue increases are in state categorical aid, E-Rate, and TEACH funding.  The main expenditure cuts were the elimination of two full-time positions, the completion of building upgrade projects, cutting back on the purchase of one school bus, and cutting the costs of new social studies textbooks and supplies.  The main expenditure additions covered employee salaries and benefits, the driveway project, upgrades in the HVAC system, a new server for the school district network, upgrades in instructional technology and classroom instructional supplies, and to upgrade the elementary playground.     

If you have any questions about N-O-W School District finances or have any other school-related topics you would like to discuss, stop in and see me in my office here at the school building, contact me here at (608) 337-4403, e-mail me at [email protected],  or attend the Annual Meeting and Budget Hearing at 7 p.m. on Monday, October 30, in the Large Conference Room in the School District Offices.