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October 17, 2019

9/27/2019 11:11:00 AM
Budget approved at spirited Dodgeville annual meeting

It took awhile for the Dodgeville school district to get a new budget passed at the annual meeting Monday, not because the figures were complicated but because a contingent from Ridgeway asked for answers.
The questions from the delegation centered around the condition of the Ridgeway school and playground. They contend their area is being overlooked and they want that changed.
"We have great staff and students," one parent said. "But the building and playground does not match the quality we expect."
The condition of the playground received the most criticism. The group contends there is pea gravel that is in a pile and needs to be spread. There are areas where children get off playground equipment on bare ground where there should be something there for protection. There is also general upkeep of the bushes and there are places that are in need of welding.
"We talked to you about it when you came to Ridgeway and you said things would get done," one mother with children at the school said. "Why has nothing been done? These are not hard things to do."
Another person told the board what needs taken care of could be hired out at minimal cost to the district.
District Administrator Dr. Jeff Jacobson told the group that he and the maintenance staff are aware of what needs to be done and had planned to have it completed in August.
"We had it scheduled but then we got an unusually heavy amount of rain," he said. "We have many acres that need mowing in the district and we did not expect to be mowing this late in the season. Usually mowing tapers off in August but not this year. We are still mowing now."
Again the subject of hiring the work done was brought up to which Jacobson answered the maintenance staff will take care of it.
The group also asked what the budget is for repairs, etc at Ridgeway and Jacobson explained all buildings have amounts assigned for the unexpected and Ridgeway's is $16,000.
"We guard the accounts very closely throughout the year," Jacobson said. "We use it for snow removal when there are unexpected amounts of snow and for fuel costs when the winter is unusually cold. We keep a close eye on it until spring."
Boiler problems at the Ridgeway building also entered the discussion when Jacobson said they are doing all they can to nurse the one there along.
"If it goes down we would have to use our back-up heat which would only do a few rooms," he said. "We would have to put students in rooms we can heat. It is that way at all our schools as all are heated by boilers."
When asked what it would take to replace the boiler Jacobson said the company that inspects them quotes one or two million dollars.
The group asked if replacement could take place through budgeting in the future.
One person who spoke said she is a police officer in Madison and feels the playground is unsafe in it present condition.
"There is a video promoting locating in Ridgeway as we have a new subdivision," she said. "The part that shows kids playing was taken at the village park. The school playground looks terrible and is not safe. We want people to come here and having a nice school is a big part of that."
"Right now I wouldn't let my children play on that playground," she added.
During the discussion a father passed around photos of the disrepair at the playground, asking board members to see the present condition.
Two of the delegation said they hold offices in the Ridgeway parent/school group. They said they want to work with the district to make things better and they have been fundraising which is a big task.
"What do you have at Dodgeville Elementary? Over 500? We have 55," one person said. "We have a much smaller audience here which makes fundraising harder."
Board member Tom McGraw who represents that area said he will be meeting with the group and helping address the problems they discussed. He asked them to attend the next Building and Grounds committee meeting and start the process there.
Jacobson explained the budget which is not a balanced budget as revenues are anticipated at $16,147,564 and expenditures at $17,147,564.
Of the Fund 10 budget salaries, benefits and purchased services amount to 84%. Jacobson said the district was on the lower end of salaries among area schools so they have been working on adjusting the range to be competitive and retain good staff.
He also explained Fund 46 that holds money set aside for maintenance and upgrades that has to sit for five years and will be available in 2021. The amount in that fund is currently $824,016.00. He also said that fund balance has $4,492,099.07 in it to maintain cash flow to eliminate short term borrowing and for use in emergency repairs if needed.
The anticipated mill rate is projected to be 10.01072, down from last year's rate of 10.89. This is an anticipated mill rate as the final figures from the state will not be available until late October. The board will then meet and certify the levy.
Jacobson said the change in mill rate is due to an increase in state aid, an increase in property values and a decrease in spending due to a slight enrollment decline.
Taxes will be levied on $7,814,095 which includes $6,040,579 to operate the schools and $1,773,516 to service referendum approved improvements.
The resolution to adopt that amount passed 16-0.
In other resolutions the electorate present approved keeping the school board salaries at $1,500 per year and to reimburse board members for travel and expenses when on business out of the district at the federal rate.
Also approved was holding future annual meetings at a time and date set by the school board.

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