November 17, 2023 at 1:50 p.m.

Barneveld school board increased non-teaching staff wages

By John Dalton

After a closed session at its last meeting November 8th, the Barneveld School Board approved an unprecedented 6% increase for all non-teaching staff. The school board and administration recognized the importance of retaining and recruiting quality staff members for all positions. Non-teaching staff include custodians, bus drivers, librarians, counselors, and administration.  Negotiations are still pending for teachers. 

Earlier at its regular meeting, the district did not approve staff increases prior to the start of the school year back in July. The CPI (Consumer Price Index) is 8% and while some school districts have been able to afford an 8% salary increase, the Barneveld School District would support an 8% increase if the district's financial status and future were healthier. Unfortunately at this time, the district simply cannot afford 8%.  

In the Superintendent’s Report, Robyn Oberfoell reported on its effort to educate the community in School Finance 101 – What You Need to Know for its upcoming referendum.  Throughout November, information can be found at three locations – The Barneveld Shopper, the District web page and the school district Facebook page.  More detailed information can be found at those sites for frequently asked questions regarding the need for a referendum and need for more money, salaries and how the district has tried to reduce spending.

No action was required for this discussion, but one thing to point out was the difference between a recurring referendum and a non-recurring referendum.  A recurring referendum provides a new base revenue limit for a school district for future planning.  For example, if a school district passes a $1 million recurring referendum, the school district has the authority to use a new revenue source. The amount is fixed and cannot increase without voter approval.  When the district achieves a balanced budget and adequate fund balance, the district has the ability to adjust the annual levy to only use what it needs. Because the base revenue limit increases with a recurring referendum, the district can use the additional funds for budget planning and increase state aid in following years.

A non-recurring referendum provides new revenue for a limited-time (usually 3-5 years) and does not raise the district’s base revenue limit.  The school district has additional funds to pay expenses for a limited time period and the district must approve a new referendum every 3-5 years. As an example, the amount that is approved for a 3-year referendum is a fixed amount and cannot increase without voter approval during that term. However the amounts of future referendum may change with each renewal.

School finance models use the district’s costs/spending to determine the amount of state aid for the following school year.  Almost all of Wisconsin’s school districts require continuous referendum funding whether the district uses recurring, non-recurring, or both.  

Oberfoell also reported that its School Board Election time again and that the deadline for incumbents to file a Notice of Noncandidacy in the District Office is 5:00 p.m., Friday, December 22, 2023.  Denise Douglas and Brad Zander’s seats will be on the ballot in April.

Also the 2024 State Education Conference is in January and if any school board members are interested to see Jill for registration and accommodations.

In the Building Administrators’ Report, Principal Heather Schmitz shared a couple highlights one being with the Orton Gillingham Training – the new Phonics curriculum and Number Corners which is an inquiry based supplement to the math curriculum.  They offered the opportunity for elementary teachers to start specializing in content areas and teach that content across the grade level.  Three staff were trained last year and an additional eight staff will be trained this school year.  

She also mentioned they are seeking Room Parent Volunteers to assist classroom teachers with clerical duties and assisting with the organization of events, field trips, chaperones, and supplies.  

In other board news, the board approved the October 11, 2023 Regular Meeting Minutes and Closed Session Minutes, approved the October 25, 2023 Special Meeting Minutes, and approved the October 2023 Receipts and Expenditures.

The board also recognized a donation by Oimoen Electric, Inc. who donated $550 of parts and labor to add two outlets and upgrade wiring in the lower gym.  And on behalf of the Fine Arts Fundraiser - two additional donations to Fine Arts of $500 by Jacob & Jaci Haack Family and $400 by Peter & Rhonda Mullin Family towards the $10,000 needed.  

In other recognition thanked the Barneveld Parent Teacher Organization for providing dinner to Staff during Parent-Teacher Conferences.

In another item for action the board approved an early graduation request for a student in January who has met all the required credits.

The next Regular School Board meeting is scheduled for December 13th, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. in the school library.