Brown Deer residents pass unchanged district levy
Slight increase is due to referendum funding
Brown Deer — A handful of Brown Deer residents at the annual meeting Tuesday passed an unchanged levy for the 2013-14 school year.
The only change for the coming year is a 0.38 percent increase that is part of referendum funding approved by voters in November 2011.
Residents passed a $13.36 million tax levy that is similar to last year's levy and supports a $19.67 million operating budget for the 2013-14 school year. Property taxes make up more than half of the school district's budget. The district was able to keep the levy flat because state aid increased for the 2013-14 school year. If state aid were to decrease, property taxes would have to make up for the loss.
"Overall, it's a stable year," Director of Business Services Emily Koczela said.
Administration has worked through the budget with a fine tooth comb to keep the expenditures relatively flat.
There is an increase of $367,000 to the salary line of the budget. However, the overall operating budget is up a modest $85,000 for 2013-14. This is possible because the district is now handling two, costly out-of-district programs in-house, Koczela said.
Over the years, the district paid Cooperative Educational Service Agency to provide out-of-district early childhood education to children ages 3 and younger with special education needs. They also contracted with out-of-district charter schools for students who were considered credit deficient. These programs are now handled by Brown Deer staff. Ultimately, the district saved 25 percent by not having to pay the CESA overhead costs even after the district increased the amount they are paying out in salaries, Koczela said.
"We can pay them just as well as CESA paid them and still come out ahead," she said.
The district is also seeing savings because they are paying for utilities in two district buildings instead of three now that Dean Elementary is no longer in use.
Included in the budget is a 2.07 percent pay increase for teachers. In addition, the district provided all teachers in the district with iPads and equipped classrooms with SMART boards or video technology.
"We've made a commitment to the investment in technology," which is proven in these purchases, Superintendent Deb Kerr said.
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