Wauwatosa School District’s 2019-2020 Proposed Budget Highlights Equity Work and Mental Health Initiatives
Budget Also Includes First Levy Increase for Approved Facilities Referendum
June 13, 2019
The Wauwatosa School District’s budget proposal for the 2019-2020 school year includes a continued focus on equity and efforts to address an increasing need for mental health support in schools.
John Mack, Director of Business Services, presented the proposal to the Wauwatosa School Board during its meeting and public hearing on Monday, June 10th.
In the proposed budget, which totals $90,757,673, operating expenditures decrease more than $242,000 from the previous fiscal year. The total amount levied is anticipated to be $58,222,762, with $11,450,000 of the levy as the first payment of debt on the $124.9 million referendum approved by voters in November of 2018. The estimated total levy impact will be an increase of 23.16%, which accounts for a 2% change in Equalized Property Value.
What’s that look like on a tax bill? The school district’s portion of the tax rate would be $9.50. Of that amount, $1.87 per $1,000 in equalized property value is the referendum payment. In total, school district taxes on a $220,000 home would be $2,090 in 2020, an increase of $393.
However, the final budget and tax rate won’t be known until October.
“The June budget is a complete estimate. The only thing we know for certain at this point is our referendum tax impact,” said Mack. “The District’s budget ultimately depends on what happens with the state budget and what we receive for state aid.”
Mental Health Initiatives
Before reviewing how dollars will be spent for the next school year, Superintendent Phil Ertl began the presentation by outlining how the budget aligns to the District’s Strategic Objectives and Equity Plan, summarized in three District Goals which are:
· All students are prepared for post-high school education, careers, and citizenship
· The Wauwatosa School District is a place where every school welcomes and supports all children, staff, and families
· In the Wauwatosa School District, underrepresented students excel
“Thank you for doing that. I think that it’s really important that anything that we’re adding, developing, changing, that it’s tied into our big picture goals of where we are going,” said School Board President Dr. Eric Jessup-Anger. “We need to look at where we are going in the next 2, 3, 4 years and make sure that we are adjusting our budgets accordingly.”
As part of the work to help all students excel, the District’s budget shines a spotlight on mental health initiatives, including the expansion of a service piloted in the 2018-2019 school year that brought outside professional mental-health resources into the school.
“Not every student has a car or a family member who can bring them to a mental health appointment outside of school, so we want to eliminate that barrier by increasing accessibility to mental health support as we focus on equity and equipping ALL students to succeed,” said Superintendent Phil Ertl.
In the 2019-2020 school year, the service will be added to two more elementary schools and a middle school. Additionally, the budget allocates funds for 1.5 full-time positions so that all elementary schools would have a full-time school counselor or social worker.
The District is also increasing a part-time safety coordinator position to full-time to meet the needs of its commitment to continually improve safety and security and consistency in implementation and training related to those measures.
A Focus on Equity
The District will continue to invest in equity-related training for staff in the 2019-2020 budget, including “Taking the Lead on Equity” training for administrators and all-staff training on Stereotype Threat and Micro-aggressions. The Black Lit class that has been in development over the last year or so will also begin in the 2019-2020 school year.
Investing in Highly Effective Teachers and Staff
Under the proposed budget, teachers would receive a 3.2% salary increase as a group.
Through the career ladder structure in the district, an Initial Educator and a Professional Educator would receive an additional $1,500. A Master Level Educator would receive $1,800 and Professional Educators making more than $60,000 would receive a $750 increase.
“Our teachers are the core of what we do and the success we have in our classrooms. We want our teachers to know they are a priority and in a time when it’s popular to jump from job to job, we reward teachers who stay with us,” said Superintendent Phil Ertl.
Teachers' total salaries generally consist of base wages plus supplemental pay. Base wages can be increased only through bargaining and only within the confines of the relevant Consumer Price Index. On the other hand, supplemental pay can be unilaterally increased by the board.
The School Board will take action on the proposed budget at its June 24th meeting. The District’s final budget will be approved in October when the state budget is released, and enrollment and state aids are known.