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Public approves tax levy increase at school

November 02, 2011 | 09:17 AM
WALWORTH — The public approved an $8.3 million tax levy for Big Foot High School during its annual meeting Monday night.

The total budget for the school district is about $11.2 million.

The tax levy increased 1.76 percent from last year.

Overall, district taxpayers will likely see an increase of about $0.08 per $1,000 of assessed value, which will bring the rate to $3.214 per $1,000 of assessed value.

That means the owner of a home valued at $150,000 will pay $482.10 toward the district, which is a $11.85 increase from last year. Part of that increase can also be attributed to a $23 million decrease in the district's equalized value — which is the taxable value of all the property in the district.

This year's budget dips into the district fund balance by about $110,000. Last week District Administrator Dorothy Kaufmann said the district dipped into the fund balance to pay for capital improvement projects, including repairs to the school's roof, heating and cooling systems and flooring.

Throughout the school, the district is replacing carpeting, which has tears and stains on it, with tiles, which should have a longer useful life.

Administrator's address

In a letter to the public, which was read in part during the annual meeting, Kaufmann said she has never experienced anything like the past year in her 29 years as an administrator.

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She credits this to Act 10, which she said, "has impacted every aspect of education, as we know it."

"Excellent teachers retired early in fear of what more they may lose," Kaufmann wrote. "Educational programs that had demonstrated a positive impact over and over again had to be evaluated, reviewed and reconsidered because we did not know how we would fund. Teachers and staff had to face an enormous amount of uncertainty and stress as their work world changed and their feelings of security became blurred as sweeping changes to the collective bargaining agreement became their new reality."

In her address, Kaufmann also pointed to the Act 10 legislation as a reason why five veteran teachers resigned. She also pointed out the district has a staff of mostly young teachers.

"The amazing fact is that over the last two years, we have hired 16 new teachers," she said.

Despite the budget challenges, Kaufmann said the district is improving the techonology infrastructure by creating a wireless campus.

"We embraced the CISCO philosophy that districts provide the infrastructure, secure it and students will bring the technology," Kaufmann wrote.

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