How Former DA Misled Board on 4K

The document below is what the (former) WGSD District Administrator, shared with school board members prior to the February 2014 meetings.  Despite all of my hard work and citizen comments on four year old kindergarten, and my repeated requests to meet with the (former) district administrator regarding the financial impact of 4K, this information was never shared with me, or the public.  I was only able to obtain this document through a public records request.

In addition to being poorly organized, there are numerous errors in this document. I will address only two of the most obvious errors that showcase the (former) district administrator’s incompetence on school funding. My explanations follow the document, so please scroll down to read them. The yellow highlight and red numbers are added by myself for clarification, and not part of the original document prepared by the (former) district administrator.

This is the 4K budget projection document prepared for the WGSD school board by Chris Joch, District Administrator. For months this was a key piece of information the school board was using to drive their decision making on whether or not to implement a district wide 4K program.

1) Yearly Cost of 4K Program: This number of approximately $340,000 is not considered an error, but it is important to point out because it is even less than the $400,000 amount I have used.  Also, the $340,000 amount includes adding a fourth bus at Woodfield Elementary in the amount of $40,000.  The good news is that with 4K the crowded and long bus rides at Woodfield Elementary would be alleviated for students in all grades K-6.

2) State Aid Increases: These numbers are simply wrong.  There can never be state aid increases in the first year (2014-15) of a 4K program because state aid is always paid in the subsequent year.  It appears the superintendent has improperly based his calculation on a three year revenue limit calculation, which is completely unrelated to state equalization aid payments.

The increase in state aid for the following school years (2015-16 and 2016-17) would be over $900,000 each year.  These correct amounts were finally acknowledged by Chris Joch and Dan Jensen at the March 2014 meetings, but only after I explained ad nauseam to the (former) district administrator and Dan Jensen, Finance Committee Chair, how financial projections for 4K are done. You can read that e-mail exchange in my March 6th post titled “4K Showdown”.

3) Mill Rate:  These numbers were also wrong.  They further support the fact that the (former) district administrator and Dan Jensen did not understand the difference between “revenue limits” and “state aid”. Because state aid is always paid in the subsequent year, the mill rate could not possible decrease in the first year, 2014-15.  In fact, the mill rate could possibly go up for a single year if and only if the Board decided to fund a 4K program through the levy instead of a 1-year loan from the District’s large reserve fund.  With the addition of increased state aid in ALL remaining years of a 4K program the mill rate could only be less for each and every future year than it would be if NO 4K program existed.  The obvious reason is due to the fact that for every dollar that is received in state aid the local levy limit is decreased by this same amount.

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