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After months of standing room only Westby Area School District Board of Education meetings you could have heard a pin drop at the school district’s annual meeting held on Monday, Oct. 2.

A mere 18 taxpayers attended the annual meeting which included school board members.

The proposed $12.3 million budget for the 2017-2018 school year passed 17-1. There was only one eligible voter that had no affiliation with the school district either past or present, but everyone who cast ballots were taxpayers in the school district.

At the annual meeting former school board member Dennis Havlik was nominated as chairman; Dan Kotek gave the treasurer’s report and Jennifer Buros, the school district business manager, presented the proposed 2017-2018 budget before the advisory vote was taken.

The Westby Area School District operates within a $12.3 million budget, of which approximately $5 million is covered through local tax levies. The remaining budget is funded through state and federal aid. The Westby Area School District receives 71.2-percent of its funding from the state.

Open enrollment in and open enrollment out numbers are two of the biggest factors in determining a school budget. Those numbers are a key components to the amount of aid all public school districts receive from the state.

Over the past four years, Westby schools have shown an increase in the number of open enrollment in students.

This year Westby schools are expected to show a slight drop in the number of open enrollment in and an increase in the number of open enrollment out students, with some of the financial loss being offset by an increase in the number of students utilizing the district’s virtual class offerings.

School district membership numbers are based on the third Friday in September head counts, but school districts are then allowed additional time after that date to submit final numbers to the state. State aid is based on a three year rolling membership average and final head count numbers must be submitted before the state categorical aid numbers are released on Oct. 15. As of Oct. 2, Westby district final membership numbers for the 2017-2018 school year were not available.

The approved advisory budget vote taken at the annual meeting is expected to be certified by the Board of Education at a special meeting on Monday, Oct. 23. If the budget is certified it will be the sixth year in a row that the school district has requested a zero tax levy increase remaining at $4,985,182.

On a bright note, after multiple years of being in the red the district’s food service program turned a profit for the second year straight. The food service program is designed to be self-sustaining and when the program operates in the red the district must use General Fund money to balance the budget at the end of the year. The program has operated in the black since it returned to an in-house venue, versus being outsourced.

Anyone with additional questions regarding the annual meeting, school budget or budgeting process should contact Interim Superintendent John Burnett or Jennifer Buros at the district office (608) 634-0101.

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Dorothy Robson is editor of the Westby Times. Contact her at 608-637-5625.

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