Cost per student Mercer $26,433,
Wis. $13,505, Nation $11,762
ACT comp. score Mercer 17.0,
Wis. 19.6, Lakeland UHS 20.0,
Hurley 18.7; perfect score 36.0
Mercer DPI Report Card score
lowest of all 421 Wis. districts

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The 2020-21 Budget


Mercer taxpayers can feel some relief from a school 2020-21 budget that contains no big changes or surprises, which is in stark contrast to several years ago. But they can also expect a surprising small decrease in school taxes.

The school board approved a budget Monday which will result in a small 1.5% increase in total expenditures, rising $53,311 from $3,487,802 in 2019-20 to $3,541,113 in 2020-21.  The slight decrease in school taxes will result from an increase in property valuation in the school district and a slightly lower levy rate.  The proposed budget sets the annual tax levy at $2,251,298, dropping the millage rate slightly to 4.74% from 4.82% last year.

Plans for the school district’s annual meeting and budget hearing at 5 pm. Monday, February 26, were also announced at the Monday meeting.  The meeting will be held “in-person” in the school’s gymnasium with face masks required and seating at social distances.  Until now, Mercer residents could attend regular board meetings only by the Zoom method.

According to the proposed budget, the contentious Fund 80 budget will rise $36,846, from $120,874 in 2019-20 to $157,720 for 2020-21.  Partly responsible for the increase were required additions to the middle school sports program.  Just a few years ago much of the Fund 80 money was spent on undocumented payments to the former administrator and select staff members.  Back then the Fund 80 budgets were often more than $250,000. 

A bit of unpleasant news announced at Monday’s school board meeting was school enrollment numbers.   PreK-12 grades enrollment is down about 10% to 128 students.  It was noted that many schools have the problem of decreased enrollments because of smaller family sizes and working couples waiting longer to start their families.

Monday’s budget meeting lasted almost two hours with numerous questions and discussion.  It was available to the public via Zoom.  Under the old regime, the school board’s budget meetings were held in private in the administrator’s office.  Another sign that we are headed in the right direction.

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