Board Update

From the Desk of Cassandra Schug - October 14, 2016

Scheduled Meetings

Human Resources - October 17, 2016 - 5:30 p.m.

Fiscal Management - October 18, 2016 - 5:00 p.m.

Special Board Meeting - Preliminary Budget Hearing - October 18, 2016 - 6:00 p.m.

Board Meeting - October 24, 2016 - 6:00 p.m.
Special Board Meeting - October 26, 2016 - 5:30 p.m.
Planning - November 2, 2016 - 5:30 p.m.
Ed Services - November 8, 2016 - 7:30 a.m.
Policy Review - November 9, 2016 - 5:30 p.m.
Human Resources - November 21, 2016 - 5:30 p.m.
Fiscal Management - November 23, 2016 - 5:30 p.m.
Board Meeting - November 28, 2016 - 6:00 p.m.

As always, please let us know if you cannot attend a meeting . . . Thank You!

Community Meetings/Functions/Conferences for the Upcoming Month(s)

This is a snapshot of some of the community events and conferences I am scheduled to attend this month. If you are interested in joining me at one of these meetings or events, please let me know – many are open to you.

List Schedule Here:

October 17 - Assembly Candidate Forum

October 17 - Rotary

October 18 - CEO Breakfast

October 19-20 - Superintendent Advisory Committee (Washington D.C.)

October 21 - Vacation

October 24 - Rotary

October 24 - Mad/Rep PK-12 Education and Business Action Accelerator

October 26 - Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation Meeting

October 27 - Professional Development Day

October 27 - Branding Commission

October 31 - Rotary

November 2 - Wake Up Watertown

November 3 - WASDA Regional Superintendents Meeting

November 10 - Library Board

November 11 - Eastern Region Advisory Board Meeting

November 12 - YMCA Auction and Dinner

November 14 - Legislative Breakfast

November 14 - Rotary

November 16 - Bentzin Memorial Speaker Program - Mark Sweet

November 17 - Education Advisory Meeting

November 17 - Branding Commission

November 18 - Economic Update - Alan Beaulieu

November 18 - Dialogue for Student Success

November 27 - Rotary

November 30 - SAIL Meeting

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September Students of the Month

Congratulations to the following WHS students for being selected as September Students of the Month: Oliver Jenne - English Department, Alex Nickel - Math Department, Laurence Byrne - Social Studies Department, Piper Hodgett - Science Department, Dominique Miller - Art Department, Jacob Sell – Music Department, Bethany Buss - Foreign Language Department, Hannah Bachman - Vocational Education Department, Payton Zubke - Physical Education Department, and George Hang - Student Services Department.

Click below to check out the new District PROMO Video!!!

Promo Video

This video is a shorter portion of the full video we showed at our opening day presentation. We edited the video to highlight our students and staff at the request of the staff due to the positive feedback from the video. I hope you will enjoy it!

Collaborative Time Update

This week the Collaborative Time Research Study Team reconvened to discuss how the roll out of collaborative time has gone, upcoming staff development for this time, and how we will evaluate the effectiveness of the time and report to the Board. The team shared that while there have been some logistical struggles, teachers have appreciated the time overall and have found the time to be highly valuable and impactful on their practice in the classroom. The team planned for the full staff to reflect on the effectiveness of the time and to share common formative assessments at our October 27th staff development date. Board members are more than welcome to attend this session and hear some of this feedback directly. Additionally, the team will present out in detail their reflections on the time to the full Board in November.

Budget Update

The budget hearing will take place on Tuesday, October 18th, at 6:00 p.m. following the conclusion of the Fiscal Management meeting. I have attached the updated operational public hearing budget summary which now accurately reflects all of our aid numbers and the resulting levy and tax impact. As you review this, you will notice that several of the numbers are different than what was presented last month, as Doug had shared would be the case. If you would like to discuss these changes in detail, I would encourage you to attend the Fiscal Management meeting scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on October 18th. Doug will be able to provide any additional information prior to the budget hearing.

I wanted to also provide some additional information to you to help you understand the attachment.

You will see in the attachment that the tax levy is $16,614,767. This is an increase of $597,431 over last year's tax levy; however, the 2015-2016 tax levy was a decrease from the 2014-2015 tax levy of $600,779. This tax levy is more than $1.3 million dollars less than the tax levy in 2012-2013.

The reason for the increase in the tax levy from when it was last reported to the Board is complicated, but it can be broken down to a few key factors: declining enrollment exemption and private school vouchers. When we received our third Friday counts, our enrollments were down by 56 residential students. This means that the District received a higher than anticipated declining enrollment exemption of $438,308. The State offsets declining enrollments to help the District adjust to the reduced limited revenue that will be forthcoming as a result of those declining enrollments.

The second reason for the increase in the tax levy from when it was last reported to the Board is due to private school vouchers. The private school voucher aid reduction is approximately $7,000 per student who uses a voucher, and this resulted in an unanticipated $108,768 addition the levy.

While the tax levy increased with the final numbers, the tax rate decreased from when this information was last shared with the Board. We had anticipated a mill (tax) rate increase from last year of just over 2 percent, but the mill rate with the new numbers would now be 1.17%. For a $150,000 home the tax impact would be approximately $15 more than that taxpayer would have paid last year for a $150,000 home. The total tax rate would be $9.08 compared to last year's tax rate of $8.98. Here again it is important to note that in 2014-2015 the tax rate was $9.36, and in 2012-2013 it was $10.10; the proposed new rate is still considerably lower than the rate from 2012-2013.

It is also important to note that the reason the levy increased and the rate decreased is because property values increase by 2.53%. This means that while the rate decreased, the value of a home increased; therefore, the taxpayer may pay more than the $15 increase because the value of his/her home likely also increased.

A few final important points:

Over the past five years, we have made hundreds of thousands of dollars of budget reductions every year. These reductions have included teaching staff, administrative staff, clerical, custodial and maintenance. We have reallocated to meet the needs of our students as efficiently as possible without increasing our budget. We have also looked at fundamental changes to the way in which we do business. We restructured our retirement, our health insurance, and our compensation model. We have pursued grant opportunities to offset costs of professional development and to provide needed support for our students and staff. We have aggressively worked to be wise stewards of the taxpayers' dollars while still meeting the needs of our students. Our increased revenues over the past ten years have been less than 2% per year while the health care trend has been 7.5% per year. That means that annual reductions to the budget have been the way in which we have continued to operate.

The proposed tax levy this year is $16,614,767. This is over 1.3 million dollars less than the tax levy in 2012-2013.

The proposed tax rate is $9.08. That is $1.02 less than the tax rate in 2012-2013.

The WUSD spends approximately $1,000 less per student than the state average.

Under-levying is a financial risk for the District that creates an even more uncertain financial future. Declining enrollments will create significant financial challenges for the District, and in order to attract and retain quality students and staff to Watertown and the WUSD, we must work to have some predictability in the financial security of the District. The accumulative effect of under-levying would create additional financial strain and unpredictability for our students, families, and community.

If I can provide any more information, please let me know - call or stop in. Doug would also be happy to walk through numbers with you. And please feel free to attend the Fiscal Management meeting on the 18th to have all of your questions answered in additional detail.

Playgrounds to Pills

Thank you to the Board members who were able to attend the "Playgrounds to Pills: Prevention Begins with Parents" program in September. Like the "Stairway to Heroin" program offered in the Spring, this program was well attended and powerful. We appreciate all of the community support that helped us to bring this program to the WUSD, and we will be continuing to examine other ways to communicate with our students, families, and community, about the powerful impact of drug use.

Elementary STEM Update

Friday marked the due date for elementary parents to provide feedback regarding their interest in STEM education for their children. The response has been overwhelmingly receptive and gives the administration and eventual planning team better insight into its efforts to prepare a site for its transition into a STEM school in time for the 2017-18 school year. Over the course of the next several weeks, the Educational Services office will coordinate planning details and timelines, all of which will be shared at upcoming meetings of the Board of Education. The details and timelines are built from discussions and documents previously shared with the Board during the past 6 months. To view the specific information shared with parents, please visit the link below.

Facilities Study and Administrative Recommendations

On October 18th the Board will have the opportunity to hear from Epstein Uhein Architects as they report out on the Facilities Study that the Board directed them to complete. Their report will focus on the capacity of each of our sites, and it will be the work of the administration and Board to determine what that will mean and how that will impact our future facility planning. A copy of the study is also attached to your email if you would like to review it before the meeting on Tuesday.

On October 26th, the administration will present the Board with options and recommendations for facility use moving forward for full Board feedback.

After these initial presentations and recommendations, the administration will take the Board feedback and work to make a recommendation to the Board for approval at the January Board meeting. The Administration plans to work through the Fiscal Management Committee to continue to take feedback and create a recommendation that will reflect the Board's input. If the Board plans to make any facility changes for the 2017-2018 school year, it will be important to decide on those changes prior to enrolling students for that school year, and the enrollment period opens at the end of January.

Watertown Way Grants (WWG)

As you may recall a part of the new compensation model included Watertown Way Grants. These grants will be awarded to those individuals who are willing to invest time and energy into researching, initiating, developing and sharing an innovation learning experience. The WWG Review committee will be meeting on Monday to determine the grant recipients. We had a rich pool of applicants in our first year, and we are excited about the great innovative work that will result from this process and the impact it will have on student learning.

Onsite Clinic Update

The WUSD Health and Wellness Center is on schedule to open on Tuesday, December 6th. Construction has been continuing, and we have worked to bring both a physician's assistant and medical assistant on board with the recruitment assistance of Healthstat. The health risk assessments have been completed, and staff have reported an initial positive perception of Healthstat; they reported a high level of satisfaction with the efficiency and service of the administration of the health risk assessments. We look forward to opening the doors on schedule.

Bentzin Memorial Speaker Program

We are excited to be hosting another Bentzin Memorial Speaker Program this fall. On November 16th, Judge Mark Sweet will be our speaker, and we encourage you to join us for what will be an informative presentation on his career path and life's work.

WHS and RMS Evacuation Drills

We had two highly successful full evacuation drills this week of WHS and RMS. We worked cooperatively with the Mayor, Fire Department, Street Department, WPD, and Dodge and Jefferson County to hold these drills, and we are confident that it has helped us all to be more effectively coordinated and prepared for a system crisis. We are grateful that we have great students and families as well as great community support and resources that allowed us to complete these drills efficiently.