The Stoughton Area School District will hold its annual meeting and budget hearing to determine the 2019-2020 district tax levy at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21, in the district administration board room, 320 North St.
The annual meeting, where district officials will talk about this year’s budget, is set for 6-6:30 p.m., with the budget hearing and vote to follow from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Residents in the district may vote on the tax levy at the conclusion of the hearing.
While the district’s successful recurring referendum in 2014 has helped its finances for the past few years, that could change as soon as next year. In February, district financial consultant Baird and Co. gave a presentation on the district’s five-year budget future that suggested problems balancing the budget after this school year. It said that primarily would be due to continued declining enrollment, which is the main determinant of state funding.
For several years, district officials have warned that SASD finances would be in good shape through the 2019-20 budget, but questionable afterward.
“We may be faced with making potential reductions if projected enrollment declines continue to occur and the state funding levels aren’t sufficient to support current spending levels,” SASD business manager Erica Pickett said in February.
And while state funding increased this year under Gov. Tony Evers’ budget, the enrollment decline continues, with no end in sight.
The annual “Third Friday” official student count last month showed 65 fewer students in the district than the year before. While that’s less than the 94-student loss the previous year, the most troubling statistic is that smaller classes are working their way through the grade levels.
Classes in grades 8-12 average around 238 students, while grades K-7 average around 197. In the past 10 years, the district has “lost” 503 students, a nearly 15 percent drop from 3,377 in the 2010-11 year to 2,874 this school year.