Financial Pillar:
State group to consider district-authored resolution

Posted January 2, 2017

When the Wisconsin Association of School Boards has its annual meeting Jan. 18, one of the resolutions it will consider originally was drafted by the Plymouth School District.

The resolution encourages legislators to change revenue limit statutes to allow school districts with low per-student revenue limits to increase their local levy by up to $100 per student until they are within 95 percent of the state average, in order to allow a more competitive balance among all school districts.

The state funding formula, established two decades ago, has artificially limited the amount that historically low-spending districts such as Plymouth has to spend on each student. This resolution would allow school boards to raise the local levy in small increments to get nearer to the state average.

The Plymouth Board of Education approved the resolution in August, and shared it with other districts around the state, some of which have passed their own resolutions in support of the change. Board President Tim St. Clair, a member of the WASB Policy Committee, shepherded it through the process to have it put before members at the annual meeting.

The resolution is one of the strategies called for in the Financial Responsibility Pillar of Excellence strategic plan. The Board of Education has established four Pillars of Excellence -- Academic Excellence, Extra-Curriculars, Community Engagement, and Financial Responsibility -- as key principles that distinguish the district and advance its mission. Each Pillar has a strategic plan that identifies desired Future States and initiatives for the next three years.

The overarching goal of the Financial Pillar is to improve the district financial outlook while maximizing and maintaining available capacity. The related Future States are:

  • In the general fund, the district eliminates the need for short-term borrowing and only uses debt for capital improvements. The general fund balance will exceed 25 percent of annual expenditures. Food Service Operation will be sustainable. Community Education will have fees as greater percentage of operating expense. District begins plan for funding post employment benefits and capital projects.
  • District will have a) studied and defined the optimal size of the school district and optimal rate of growth, b) the level of open enrollment desires, and c) then established methodology to encourage families to settle in the Plymouth School District.
  • District personnel will be contributing members to established regional planning organizations and utilize additional source of funding to fill prioritized needs effectively.
  • District will have a) adopted a maintenance plan for the district prioritizing various needs, and b) established a cost estimate for each need and a timeline for its completion. Self analysis of facility cleanliness will increase from Level 3 to Level 2 under APPA custodial service standards.
  • Board and Administration will systematically review district needs with elected representatives and discuss implications of proposed legislation systematically.

In addition to the WASB resolution, 2016-17 strategies include:

  • Reviewing benefit packages offered to employees
  • Seeking to establish larger maintenance contingency allocation in budget
  • Having Food Service & Community Education review pricing and programming for relevance
  • Collaborating with city, townships and villages to promote community growth strategy stabilizing or increasing the number of resident pupils
  • Promoting district participation in regional planning, cost sharing and revenue enhancing opportunities
  • Basing budget requests and resources allocation on previous year's review and desired future state, as well as pursuing  a Community Survey to gauge community readiness
  • Hosting and promoting forums and direct discussions with area legislators.

Learn more:
Visit the Pillars of Excellence page to learn more about all four Pillars of Excellence.