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Big Foot eyes lower tax levy for 2022-23: School board ups pay for subs, school bus drivers

While prices are sharply on the rise across the board in the current inflationary environment, one cost may well be going down for residents living within the boundaries of the Walworth-based Big Foot Union High School District.

Big Foot serves the villages of Fontana, Sharon and Walworth, and the towns of Walworth, Delavan, Linn and Sharon.

In a bit of good news for beleaguered taxpayers struggling with the costs of rising interest rates and national inflation spiking to highs not seen since 1979, the Big Foot Board of Education on July 18 previewed the Grades 9-12 union high school district’s proposed 2022-23 budget, which preliminarily calls for decreased local taxation.

District business director Laura Long previewed the district’s proposed balanced $9,140,533 budget for the 2022-23 school year, which calls for the levying of $6,908,098 in local tax revenues, down from $7,214,940 for the 2021-22 school year.

The district’s proposed $9,140,533 budget for 2022-23, down from the $9,607,454 budgeted for the 2021-22 school year, budgets $3,128,387 for instruction, $4,501,065 for pupil support, and $1,511,079 for non-program expenditures.

“We have a three-year, non-recurring, $350,000 referendum for operating costs the public passed in November 2018 that’s falling off, which is basically the decrease in revenue for us,” said district administrator Dr. Doug Parker. “It’s very preliminary. We don’t get our final equalization value verified until October, so our numbers can still change, but because it’s the second year of a biennium, it’s pretty close to ballpark.”

Parker said the district is projecting a mill rate of $2.89 per $1,000 in equalized property valuation, pending fall receipt of updated property value figures from the State of Wisconsin.

WIAA membership renewal

In advance of an Aug. 1 application deadline, the Big Foot Board of Education approved a one-year membership renewal with the Stevens Point-based Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) for select Grades 9-12 sports.

The WIAA membership renewal comes at no cost to Big Foot Union High School.

A WIAA Board of Control April 2015 suspension of dues and fees until the 2017-18 school year became permanent as a result of membership action at its 2017 annual meeting.

Other news

In other July 18 developments, the Big Foot Board of Education:

Received an annual seclusion and restraint report showing zero instances of student seclusion or restraint at Big Foot High School or Lakeland School during the 2021-2022 school year. Established in 1950, Lakeland School serves approximately 200 special needs students ages 3-21 from all across Walworth County with a full range of services at its self-contained facility at W3905 County Road NN, Elkhorn.

Along with the Reek, Fontana, Walworth, Williams Bay and Delavan school boards, agreed to raise Dousman Transport bus driver wages by $1.50 an hour in an effort to help Dousman stay competitive with the pay rates offered by other area bus companies.

Approved a five-year bus contract with incumbent bussing services vendor Dousman Transport Co., Inc., of Dousman, which operates Walworth County transportation hubs out of Delavan and Lake Geneva. The district’s contract with Dousman, $208,423 for the 2022-2023 school year, calls for a 2.5% annual rate increase per year over the five-year contract period, which runs through the 2027-2028 school year.

Renewed the district’s shared school nursing services contract with Reek Elementary School. Contract terms are unchanged.

Approved a schedule of 2022-2023 student fees at a rate unchanged from the 2021-2022 school year. Said Parker, “We did raise any costs to kids or families.”

Approved a $15/day increase in the district’s substitute teacher pay rate from $110 to $125 per day, a move that aligns Big Foot with area districts in the competition for substitute teachers.

Approved the hiring of Big Foot alumnus Sophia Foster as junior varsity cross-country coach.

"We have a three-year, non-recurring, $350,000 referendum for operating costs the public passed in November 2018 that's falling off, which is basically the decrease in revenue for us."

District Administrator Doug Parker.

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