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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Elmbrook's 2008-09 enrollment decline affects 2009-10 budget

4-K, Elmbrook, TAXES, THE ECONOMY

Elmbrook enrollment down by 103 students, but no need to worry...now. "The state exempts districts from fluctuations in enrollment for one year."

I first learned about this delay at the April 8th school board meeting when they discussed the 2008-09 budget. There was mention that although the 4K pilot program was discontinued, Elmbrook's budget would still be based on their higher 2007-08 enrollment numbers*. It was a boon--a bit of free money.

In other words 2008-09's budget included about $165,000 in extra state aid money, because the state based their funding on approximately 196 4K kindergarten students no longer enrolled in school. (Kindergarten students count as half a student in the state aid formula since they attend half day.) This money was free in the sense that there were not teacher expenses associated with it, because the 4K program no longer existed.

If memory serves me correctly, Board member Glen Allgaier asked if that extra money should be used to offset the coming budget shortfalls. That idea was quickly dismissed. (Thanks, Glen, for trying.) 

Anyway, this year, Elmbrook School District shows a 103 student enrollment decline since last year (97 resident, 5 non-resident) not counting the 196 4K students.

This came as no surprise though to the administration. The trend toward declining enrollment was "projected:"

Superintendent Matt Gibson said the decrease was on track with projections. He believes a decrease in the birth rate and slowdown in the housing market have contributed to the decrease in students.

Next year, though, the drop will be included in a three-year rolling average that is used to calculate funding for the district. This average figures into Elmbrook’s total revenue cap, the amount it is allowed to collect in aid and taxes.

As such, a drop in enrollment can mean less state aid and higher taxes to make up the difference.

Parents who homeschool or send their children to private schools often send their children to public school in the higher grades. But even at the high school level enrollment dropped by 57 students.

Voters just approved a $62 million dollar high school referendum last spring to expand and improve facilities. Guess we needed that extra room to accommodate those 57 fewer students?

Speaking of the referendum, remember how our additional yearly tax contribution was calculated on a 2% increase in tax base? That 2% has fizzled too.

No need for Elmbrook’s administration to worry though. All budget shortfalls, whether caused by an increase in referendum expenses or declining enrollment will be made up by us, the Elmbrook taxpayers.

 

*I had not thought about this before: If Elmbrook can collect state aid for students no longer enrolled (because of that enrollment fluctuation delay) does this mean Elmbrook calculates their tax levy on us based on students no longer enrolled too? Remember, Elmbrook taxpayers pay about $10,000 per student / per year for each resident student. I must ask about that!    

 

Please, comment content should relate to the subject of the post. Although I try to respond to many, do not interpret my lack of a response as agreement.

Links: 

 

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Brookfield7, Fairly Conservative, Vicki Mckenna, Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, Mark Levin, CNS News 

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