Norfolk Public Schools administrators continued to balance district needs with property tax requests for the 2019-20 school year, where there will be a 0.3 cent levy reduction amid a 2.5% increase in property valuations.
At the September monthly meeting, which was also the annual budget and tax hearings for the district, Associate Superintendent Dr. Bill Robinson recommended a levy of $1.173569 per $100 of assessed valuation for 2019-20. This is $0.003077 less than last year’s levy of $1.176646.
The 2019-20 general fund budget is $69,044,277, which includes cash reserves and county treasurer balance. Its budget of actual expenditures for 2019-20 is $47,221,659, which excludes the cash reserve and estimated county treasurer balance.
The actual expenditures is $1,235,484 more than last year. This budget increase of 2.76% will be used to replace outdated HVAC systems at the junior high, senior high and Jefferson Elementary School, as well as address staffing needs for the growing district. This includes salary increases and more staff added last school year, especially at the new Little Panthers Preschool building, where there are 58 staff members. The new building opened in August.
Student enrollment in the district is at 4,535 in 2019, a 12% increase since 2010. The total levy since then has decreased from $1.32 to $1.17.
Property tax receipts for this year are projected to be $30,224,003.35, which is $665,969.50 more than last year. The rounded down tax rates for district funds include $1 for the general fund, $.05 for K-8 bond funds, $.03 for 9-12 bond funds, $.05 for the special building fund and $.03 for the Qualified Capital Purpose Undertaking Fund.
Allocations from these receipts include $25,946,862 for the general fund, $1,297,343 for the special building fund, $1,152,272 for the K-8 bond fund, $817,424 for the 9-12 bond fund and $1,010,101 for the Qualified Capital Purpose Undertaking Fund.
The district will receive $11.5 million in state aid this year, which is $2.2 million more than last year but less than the amounts it received in the 2002-03 and 2010-11 school years.
Superintendent Dr. Jami Jo Thompson called the budget “strong, yet conservative,” noting that it has been ranked 16th out of 244 Nebraska public schools in terms of efficiency, and that the budget increase is below the recommended state agency amount of 3%.
“It maintains a conservative approach while investing in infrastructure and staff,” she said at the September meeting.
Board members discussed the balance of keeping tax levies low while providing educational opportunities for students more in-depth at a public meeting on Aug. 30.
Bob Waite referenced the school’s efficiency ranking and said he hopes they continue to look for ways to provide for students.
“It’s a wonderful thing and showing the community we’re doing a very good job of managing tax dollars. At the same time, if the budget authorities in this document allow us to do more, I wouldn’t hesitate to do that because we still aren’t meeting needs of all our kids,” he said. “... Being a low-spending district is a two-edged sword.”
Arnie Robinson agreed and said administrators do a good job of “value spending,” such as renovating a building for the new preschool, which allows the district to capitalize on other opportunities.
“I think we’ve done a really nice job with career academies and High Ability Learner summer school programs, we need to keep finding spots where we can do more and stay high-ranking (in efficiency),” he said.
There were no comments from members of the public at Monday night’s meeting.
Norfolk Public Schools Board of Education
The Norfolk Public Schools Board of Education met for its monthly meeting Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Norfolk Public Schools Central Administration Office.
The meeting lasted 65 minutes, and it was preceded by a 31-minute study session.
Board members present: Arnie Robinson, Bruce Mitchell, Tammy Day, Sandy Wolfe, Bob Waite and Patti Gubbels.
Others in attendance: Two from the media, one from the public and 20 for a Focus on the Students presentation and staff award.
ITEMS OF INTEREST
- Lunchtime Solutions Inc. provided an update on school lunches for the 2019-20 school year.
- The annual budget and tax hearings were conducted, and no one from the public provided comment.
- Approved the 2019-20 tax resolution.
- Approved the 2019-20 budget.
- Approved the first reading of the following board policies: 3010 (Budget Planning), 3011 (Fund Balance Reporting), 3020 (Public Review of Budget), 3030 (Transfer of Funds Between Categories), 3040 (Budget as Spending Plan-Budgeted Items), 3050 (Tuition Fees for Non Resident Students), 3060 (Materials Fees), 3070 (Summer School Fees), 3080 (Federal Funds), 3090 (Sale and Disposal of School Property), 3100 (Leasing), 3110 (Short-Term Investing) and 3120 (Depository and Resolution).
- Approved the sale of outdated sewing machines to the public for $25 each.
- Approved the signing of the Certificate of Notification from the Stanton County Planning Commission for a plat at Valley View Estates.
FUTURE MEETINGS: The second monthly meeting is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 26, at noon. The next regular business meeting will be Monday, Oct. 14, at 6:30 p.m., with a study session at 5:30.