• Budget Update 2013-2014

    Posted by Wayne Anderson at 4/17/2013

    During the next two months, the Board of Education will be focused on establishing a budget for the 2013-2014 school year.  On April 15, 2013, I presented two different budget options to the Board of Education.  These options were based on several assumptions.  During this blog, I will try to explain both of these options and the assumptions that each of the options were based on during their construction.

    2013-2014 Budget Options:

    The first option is based on the Governor's current budget proposal, which is a revenue limit freeze.  Under this option, the district would receive approximately $82,000 in new revenue based upon increased student enrollment over the past three years. Other sources of new revenue come from two fee increases: 1) the fee for Drivers Education will be increased from $450 to $500 per student, a net increase of $50 per student.  This increase should generate about $8,000 in additional revenue for the 2013-2014 school year. 2) a transportation fee will be assessed for all students grades 6-12 who reside within two miles of school.  The fee approved by the Board was $200 per family.  I have estimated that this fee will bring in new revenue of approximately $20,000.  Under this option, the district would have approximately $110,000 of new revenue to allocate in the proposed budget.

    The second option is based on a $150 per student revenue cap increase being pushed by Luther Olson and several other Republican legislators.  Under this option, the district would receive approximately $380,000 in new revenue based upon increased student enrollment over the past three years and the proposed revenue limit increase of $150 per student . Other sources of new revenue come from two fee increases: 1) the fee for Drivers Education will be increased from $450 to $500 per student, a net increase of $50 per student.  This increase should generate about $8,000 in additional revenue for the 2013-2014 school year. 2) a transportation fee will be assessed for all students grades 6-12 who reside within two miles of school.  The fee approved by the Board was $200 per family.  I have estimated that this fee will bring in new revenue of approximately $20,000.  Under this option, the district would have approximately $408,000 of new revenue to allocate in the proposed budget.

    Both of the following budget scenarios are based on the following assumptions:

    1)  Health insurance increases for the district will be held at the 2012-2013 levels either by changing the plan design, increasing the premium amount paid by the staff, a combination of these two options or selecting an alternative health insurance provider;

    2)  No funds have been included for the health insurance decision regarding employees who work 30 or more hours per week.  The decision on this topic will provide additional funds that can be reallocated, be cost neutral or require additional revenue to meet the increased expenditure:

                a) If employees who currently work 30 or more hours per week are reduced to 25 hours per week for next year during the measurement period then additional dollars will be available to reallocate in next year’s budget;

                b) If the number of employees who work 30 or more hours per week are reduced in number from 51 paraprofessionals to approximately 25 paraprofessionals (about 50%) then the remaining 25 individuals will receive 50% of a single health insurance premium for the 2013-2014 school year and will be eligible for the same or comparable insurance coverage as all other staff members during the 2014-2015 school year.  This option would save the district money in 2013-2014, but would go back to the 2012-2013 levels in 2014-2015;

                c) If the number of employees who currently work 30 or more hours per week are all employed for the same number of hours during the 2013-2014 school years, then the district will need to put in additional dollars to cover the cost of those individuals who elect to receive 50% of a single health insurance premium.  This option has an additional cost during the 2014-2015 school year because all of the employees would be eligible to receive the same health insurance benefits as employees who work 1,440 hours or more per year, teachers and administrators.  This option would cost approximately $750,000 at today’s insurance rates.

    At the conclusion of the Board's budget discussion on Monday night, the Board asked me and the other administrators to bring back a recommendation regarding this issue to the full Board for its May 6 Board of Education meeting. 

    3)  Most building and department budgets are being held at the 2012-2013 levels.

    In conjunction with the above options, the Board will need to consider what direction they would like to go in for the “measurement period” of the Affordable Care Act.   The “measurement period” for the school district will start on July 1, 2013, and end on April 30, 2014.  During this "measurement period" any employee who works an average of 30 hours or more per week during this time period will be entitled to health insurance coverage during the 2014-2015 school year.  Therefore, the decisions made regarding this issue will have ramifications not only for the 2013-2014 school year, but even more significant ramifications for the 2014-2015 budget.

    Both budget options include the following funds that may be reallocated for the 2013-2014 school year:

    1)  Superintendent Search Firm                                  $25,000

    2)  Administrator/Teacher Staff Replacements               $65,000

    3)  Superintendent Post-Employment Benefits               $25,500

    4)  Expired Employee Retirement Benefits                    $80,000

    5)  Reduction in Sick Leave Costs                               $30,000

    6)  Elimination of 2 High School Paraprofessionals       $40,000

    Under Option 1, the following items would be added to the 2013-2014 budget:

    1)  School Bus $110,000;

    2)  Increase to Supply and Material Budgets  $89,900

    3)  Fund increased cost of Liability and Property Insurance $10,000

    4)  Increase High School Librarian from .75 to 1.0 FTE (Full Time Equivalent)$12,000

    5)  Increase Intermediate Center Librarian from .75 to 1.0 FTE $20,000

    6)  Increase Early Learning Center/Primary Center Librarian from .5 to 1.0 FTE $36,000

    7)  Hire 1.0 Additional Middle School Teacher  $60,000

    Under this option, staff would not receive a salary increase for the 2013-2014 school year.

    Under Option 2, all of the above items would be added to the 2013-2104 budget and also the following items:

    1)  Increase the Middle School/High School Music teacher from .75 to 1.0 FTE  $21,000

    2)  Provide a staff salary increase of approximately 2.07% (CPI)  $315,000

    During the next several weeks, the 2013-2014 budget will be discussed at each of the regularly scheduled Board of Education meetings.  I encourage each of you to come to these meetings, which are held on the first and third Mondays of the month starting at 7:00 p.m.  All Board meetings are held in the Middle School Step Room.  I will also be writing bi-weekly updates on the budget so that you can keep up with the various changes and revisions that are being made to each option.  If you any specific questions regarding the budget process and the budget options that have been described, feel free to contact me at (608) 437-2400 extension 1211.

    Comments (0)
  • Maintenance Referendum Update #2

    Posted by Wayne Anderson at 3/21/2013
      
    On Tuesday, April 2, the residents of the Mount Horeb Area School District will be asked to vote on a $6,170,000 referendum. The purpose of the referendum is to replace the heating system at the High School ($3,000,000), repair the roof at the High School ($2,750,000) and replace the single pane windows at the High School and Early Learning Center ($420,000). 

    What is the Cost Benefit of Replacing these Three Items?

    These three projects were chosen because they would help reduce our energy consumption at the High School by about 35%. The improved insulation R-value associated with a new roof and new thermal pane windows at the High School will reduce the building’s energy loss and allow the new heating/cooling system to be properly sized. 

    The current boilers are approximately 65% efficient and could be replaced by a new set of boilers that operate at 95% efficiency. The new roof will have an R-value of 25, currently the roof has a R-value of about 11.  The combined energy efficiency of the boilers, roof and thermal-pane windows would save the district conservatively $30,000 or more in natural gas usage each year.  During the last five years, the district has spent on average $110,000 per year to heat the High School.  The new heating system would also allow the central core section of the building to be air conditioned during the summer months.                                          

    Why Do We Need to Replace the Single Pane Windows at the Early Learning Center?
    The current windows in the Early Learning Center were put in when the building was constructed in the 1960’s.  These windows are not energy efficient and allow the building’s heat to escape in the winter increasing the building’s heating costs.  The windows also let heat in during the spring, summer and fall thus making the building uncomfortable for both staff and students.  Finally, since the large single-pane windows are not shatterproof, they could pose a safety threat if they were accidently broken.
     
    What Would the School District Do with the Energy Savings?

    The energy savings of approximately $30,000 per year generated by these three projects could be reallocated to other sections of the school budget.  Though it has not yet been decided exactly where these savings would be reallocated, some potential uses could be additional non-energy savings maintenance projects such as flooring replacement. Currently the district budgets approximately $130,000 per year for maintenance projects.  The savings could also be reallocated to purchase additional supplies and equipment for the school district.  During the 2012-2013 school year, this area of the budget was reduced by approximately $600,000 in order to maintain our current staffing levels and curricular and co-curricular programs.

    How will the Referendum Affect My Property Taxes?

    The referendum question is asking the residents of the school district to approve the borrowing of $6,170,000 for the replacement of the High School heating system, the repair of the High School roof and the replacement of the single pane windows at the High School and Early Learning Center.  The tax impact of $6,170,000 is $.25 per $1,000 of equalized property value.  The chart below represents the tax impact on different equalized property values:

    Property

    Value

    Yearly

    Increase

    Monthly Increase

    $100,000

    25.00

    2.08

    150,000

    37.50

    3.13

    200,000

    50.00

    4.16

    250,000

    62.50

    5.21

    300,000

    75.00

    6.25

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
     

    If you have any additional questions about the upcoming maintenance referendum, please feel free to contact me at (608) 437-2400 extension 1211.  I encourage each and every one of you that are eligible to vote.  Voting is one of the most effective ways to make your thoughts and feelings known on some of the important issues the district is currently facing and will be facing in the future.
    Comments (0)
  • Snow Day Makeup

    Posted by Wayne Anderson at 3/19/2013
    On Monday, March 18, the Board of Education voted to waive the fourth snow day.  This is the first time in my educational career that the district has had four snows in the same year.  By waiving the fourth snow day, the district will be able to continue on its current calendar without any changes.  The Board was allowed to waive this day because the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) allows each school district to waive five (5) days per year for inclement weather and parent/teacher conferences.  Prior to last night's decision, the district had only used four (4) days for these two purposes.  However, with the decision to waive the fourth snow day, the district will have used all five days allowed by DPI.  This means that students will still end the year on Thursday, June 6, and staff will finish the school year on Friday, June 7. 
     
    Since we are still in mid-March, it is possible that the school district could have another snow day before the end of the school year.  If we do have another snow day then the Board of Education will have to decide when that day will be made up by both the students and staff.  If the district has another snow day, it is likely that the additional day will be added on to the end of the school year.  This would mean that students would need to come back for at least half of the day on Friday, June 7, and staff would have to complete their room checkout either on that same day after the students had left or come back on Monday, June 10.
     
    I am not sure how everyone else feels, but I am certainly looking forward to warm weather and mowing my lawn.  Think Spring, the calendar says that it is right around the corner.
    Comments (0)
  • Maintenance Referendum

    Posted by Wayne Anderson at 2/12/2013
    On April 2, 2013, the residents of the Mount Horeb Area School District will be asked to vote on a $6,170,000 referendum question to replace the heating system at the High School, repair the roof at the High School and  to replace the single pane windows in the High School and Early Learning Center.  Prior to this date the Buildings, Grounds, Insurance and Transportation (BGIT) Committee and the full Board of Education had several discussions regarding this topic.  A brief outline of the discussion is as follows:
    1) The BGIT Committee discussed the need for a maintenance referendum at its September and October meetings.  The Committee members felt that there were several major maintenance issues that need to be resolved by the school district, but the funds to undertake these issues are not able to be built into our yearly maintenance budget.
    2)  The full Board had discussions regarding a maintenance referendum during its November and December meetings.  During these meetings the full Board discussed the possible need for a maintenance referendum and the types and costs of the projects that might be included in such a referendum.   I was asked to create a list of the various maintenance projects that could be considered in a maintenance referendum and the estimated costs for each project. 
    3)  On December 3, 2012, I provided a list of twelve (12) different maintenance projects that could be included in a maintenance referendum.  The estimated cost of these projects totaled $8,650,000.  The projects identified in this proposal included replacing the heating system at the High School, installing air conditioning at the Early Learning Center, replacing the air conditioning system at the Middle School, replacing the single pane windows at the High School and Early Learning Center, repairing the roof at the High School, installing a new track at the High School, repairing the roof at the Middle School, resurfacing the parking lot at the High School, renovating the restrooms at the High School, removing the asbestos and replacing the entrance doors at the Early Learning Center, repairing the stairways at the Intermediate Center and replacing the carpet at the High School, Middle School, Intermediate Center and Early Learning Center.  When the Board was discussing the scope of this referendum, several members felt that this was too large and complex of a task to fully inform the public in such a short time and felt that a referendum of this magnitude should be held during the spring of 2014.
    4)  The Board continued discussing the district's referendum needs and whether it was better to have a limited referendum in the spring or wait until the spring of 2014 to have a more comprehensive referendum.  On January 21, 2013, the Board of Education voted to proceed with a limited referendum on April 2.
     
    The items selected for the referendum fit well together because they serve a united purpose of helping improve the energy efficiency of both the High School and the Early Learning Center.  At the High School, the new heating system will be much more energy efficient than our current system and this system will allow for the main section of the building to be climate controlled.  By replacing the single pane windows with new triple pane energy efficient windows and repairing the roof at the High School, additional energy will be saved because more heat will stay inside the building instead of leaking through the roof and single pane windows.  Working together these three projects complement each other and make the High School much more energy efficient thus allowing the district to reduce our energy costs within the building and reallocating these funds to other needed areas of the budget.  The double pane windows at the Early Learning Center will also help reduce the amount of natural gas that is used in heating the building, by allowing natural sunlight to come into the building while at the same time holding in more of the heat generated by the boilers.  In the summer time, the new energy efficient windows are designed to allow light to enter the building but reflect the warmth of the sun helping to keep the building at a more comfortable temperature.
     
    These projects will help make our High School and Early Learning Center more comfortable and energy efficient.  However, a common question that people have is what will the cost of this project do to my tax bill.  The tax impact of these projects is estimated to be $25 per $100,000 of equalized property value.  If the current equalized value of your house is $200,000, these projects would add an additional $50 per year to your tax bill.  If the current equalized value of your house is $300,000, the tax impact would be $75 per year.
     
    In order for individuals to have their questions answered about the upcoming referendum, two public forums have been set up to answer any questions that people might have regarding the various projects and how these projects will fit into the overall long-term maintenance plan of the school district.  The first public forum will be held on Monday, February 25, at 7:00 p.m. in the High School auditorium.  The second public forum will be held on Tuesday, March 19, at 7:00 p.m. in the Early Learning Center gymnasium.  I hope that each of you will be able to attend and have your questions answered.  If you have any questions about the referendum or any of the projects, please feel free to contact me and I will do my best to answer your questions.  I can be reached at 437-2400 extension 1211 or by email at andersonwayne@mhasd.k12.wi.us or simply stop into my office and talk with me.
     
    Thank you for your past and continued support of our school district.
    Comments (0)
  • Budget Development Process for the 2013-2014 School Year

    Posted by Wayne Anderson at 1/15/2013
    The Mount Horeb Area School District is now working on the budget development process for the 2013-2014 school year.  This process actually begins in late November, early December as administrators start to examine possible revenue and expenditure increases for the next school year.  As part of this process, administrators review building and department budgets to determine personnel, supply and equipment needs for the upcoming year.  During the month of January, building personnel will start to work on their classroom and department budgets to identify their supply, material and equipment needs for the 2013-2014 school year.  The following is the letter that I have written to district staff regarding the budget development process for the 2013-2104 school year:

    To District Personnel:

    As we are approaching the end of the first semester of the 2012-2013 school year, it is again time to start preparing our budget for the 2013-2014 school year. The past few years have had some difficult budget challenges, but I believe that this year’s budget will be the most difficult budget that I have had to put together in my seventeen years as your Superintendent.  It has always been my goal and the goal of the Board of Education to create a balanced budget without staff layoffs. This will continue to be our goal, but the obstacles in our way are more numerous than at any other time in the past. Our State and nation’s fiscal recovery continues to be slow. The fiscal cliff and debt ceiling discussions at the federal level have yet to be resolved and their decisions on these issues will have a direct impact on our budget. Current sequestration decisions, if not changed or modified, will reduce our federal revenue by around 7%. Governor Walker has not yet given his 2013-2015 budget to the legislature, so at this time I do not know what our per pupil revenue allotment will be for the 2013-2014 school year.   

    In order to start the budgeting process, I have made several assumptions: 1) Per pupil revenue limit will be increased to $200 per student based on a three-year average for the 2013-2014 school year; 2) Our student population will remain constant for 2013-2014, thus having a three-year average student increase of seventeen (17) students; 3) Health insurance premium rates increase by 10%; and 4) At this point, two teachers will retire at the end of the 2012-2013 school year; (savings of $30,000). Based on these and other factors, I have estimated that our school district will need to receive approximately $500,000 in order to create a balanced 2013-2014 budget. However, an estimated 10% health insurance increase equates to an increase in premiums of approximately $290,000. Thus leaving approximately $210,000 for any staff compensation increases, increases to the district and building’s supply, material and equipment budgets; and any additional staff increases.

    In an effort to create a balanced budget, while at the same time minimizing the impact on staff, the Administrative Council will continue to review budgetary options. As you prepare your classroom, grade level and department budget, please budget as though these amounts will not be increased. Also prioritize your budget requests, so if more money becomes available we will know what items should be added to your request and if the amount is reduced, we will know what items to cut from your requests.

    The Board of Education’s Finance Committee will be looking at our projected health insurance premiums and determining whether or not to suggest any changes to the Board that would allow the district to reallocate funds. On our January 21 Inservice Day, the staff will be able to start the budget development process by working on their classroom and department budgets.  

    The Administrative Council has already begun prioritizing the anticipated needs of the school district. It will be our goal to determine how to best meet the district’s priorities under the assumptions previously discussed. During the month of February, the BGIT Committee will review the draft budgets for Buildings & Grounds and Transportation. The Education Committee will review the District’s draft technology budget and the draft budget for Curriculum and Instruction. In March, these district-wide budgets will be reviewed by the Finance Committee. In April, the draft building budgets will be reviewed by the Finance Committee. Once the various Committees have had a chance to examine the proposed 2013-2014 budget and make suggestions and modifications, the draft budget will be brought to the full Board of Education and they will then re-examine the budget(s) and make a final determination of where our dollars should be spent within the district.  The Board of Education will have budget updates as a regular part of their meeting agenda starting in March so that staff and community members can provide input to the Board of Education as it makes its decisions regarding the prioritization of the district’s funds.

    A continuing goal in the budget process is to keep everyone informed about where money is allocated within the budget. As this process takes place, I will keep the district’s staff and community members updated by putting regular budget updates on my district blog. 

    Staff should begin work on their 2013-2014 budget requests immediately. Requisition forms are available in school offices. All staff should make sure that they are using valid pricing information for the 2013-2014 school year. Please make sure to include shipping and handling charges on your purchase orders and keep in mind that the district does not pay sales tax. Be sure that you have prioritized all of your requests, #1 through however many budget requests you are presenting. This will be especially important this year because the amount of money currently designated to the area of supplies, materials and equipment has been kept at the 2012-2013 levels. Develop a supporting rationale for each request. The supporting rationale becomes very important as administrators attempt to direct our limited available funds to those areas where the identified need is the greatest for the district.

    Administrators will establish a timetable for their buildings and/or departments, which will allow them to meet with their respective staff members. The enclosed budget timeline illustrates the sequence of events to be followed prior to final board approval on June 3, 2013.

    All staff members that submit budget requests will receive a written summary of their budget by June 7, 2013. Please realize that it may be necessary to make additional budget cuts after that date. Head administrators will be consulted/notified when cuts are deemed necessary and they are responsible to keep staff apprised of the status of their budget requests.

    I want to thank you in advance for your help in sacrificing different individual needs so that the greater needs of the school district can be achieved. It is my honor to lead you through these difficult times.

    During the upcoming weeks, I will continue to provide updates on my blog dealing with the budget development process.  If you have any questions concerning the budget process or the budget in general please feel free to contact me at 437-2400 ext. 2111.
    Comments (0)
  • Transportation Fee for 2013-2014 School Year

    Posted by Wayne Anderson at 1/14/2013

    During the past several years, the Mount Horeb Area School District Board has discussed the issue of transporting students who live within two miles of their school building.  Due to increased transportation costs and increased Village ridership, the school district has been discussing what changes need to be made in order to continue to provide a valuable service to the community, while at the same time being sensitive to the district's transportation budget.  Currently, the Mount Horeb Area School District allows all students, both within and outside of the Village limits, to ride school busses to and from school for no fee. 

    In order to continue this practice for the 2013-2014 school year, additional Village bus routes must be incorporated to provide an opportunity for all K- 12 students to ride on a school bus, while at the same time insuring that all of our busses are transporting only the number of students allowed within their legal limits. Since several of our Village bus routes recently had more bus riders than our busses were allowed to carry, the district added an additional bus route to eliminate this problem prior to winter break.

    Our current bus fleet has twenty-seven (27) busses.  In order to transport all K-12 students in 2013-2014, the District would need to purchase at least one new school bus at a cost of approximately $95,000 and employ one more full-time route driver. The cost for wages and fuel for a route is approximately $20,000 per year. Therefore, in order to maintain the same level of service for the 2013-2014 school year that residents currently receive the district would need to increase the 2013-2014 transportation budget by $115,000 to cover the cost of a new bus and one additional route.

    During the January 7, 2013, I recommended the following options to the Board of Education to consider for the 2013-2014 school year: 1) Continue the current transportation practice of allowing all K-12 students to ride busses to and from school and allocate an additional $115,000 to the transportation budget to cover the cost of one additional bus and one additional route. This would allow the district to continue the status quo. 2)  Change the current transportation practice by allowing all K-5 Village students to ride the bus free of charge, but denying bus ridership to Village students in grades 6-12, except for those students who live in hazardous regions of the Village. This option would reduce bus ridership and probably allow the district to maintain its current number of routes thus eliminating the need to add an additional bus route. This option should not increase car traffic at any of our elementary schools, but it might increase car traffic at the Middle School.  3) Adopt option #2, but allow students in grades 6-12 to ride the bus by paying a bus ridership fee of $200 per family. This would give access to bus service to all families in the school district who needed or desired bus service. It would probably still reduce bus ridership enough to allow us to maintain our current number of bus routes.  4) Our current Bus Routing and Scheduling Policy #751.1 and State law allows the district to transport only those students who live two miles or more from school and those students who live in hazardous areas less than two miles from school. Implementing this option would greatly reduce bus ridership thus possibly postponing the need to purchase an additional bus for one or more years and also allowing the district to reduce it current transportation budget because of the elimination of bus routes and drivers. However, it would greatly increase car traffic around our elementary schools and possibly our Middle School.

    It was my recommendation to adopt either option #2 or #3 because these options allowed us to maintain our current budgets, while at the same time providing a service to parents. The school district would waive the bus ridership fee for those families that qualify for free and reduced lunch.  The Board of Education accepted my recommendation.  So at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, students in grades K-5 who live within two miles of their school will continue to be allowed to ride the school bus at no cost.  However, students in grades 6-12 who live within two miles of the Middle School or High School and do not live within designated hazardous areas will only be allowed to ride the school bus to and from school by paying a bus ridership fee of $200 per family.

    If you have any questions regarding this change, please feel free to contact me at 437-2400 extension 1211.  Randy Schulz, our transportation coordinator, will be happy to tell you whether or not your Village residence is currently listed as being in a hazardous area.  His telephone number is 437-2400 ext. 1252.  Prior to the start of the 2013-2014 school year, the district will publish a list of designated Village bus stops in the Mount Horeb Mail.

     

    Comments (0)
  • Building Security

    Posted by Wayne Anderson at 12/19/2012

    Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, people across the nation have been focused on school security. Parents, children, staff and community members want to know that their schools are safe. During the past week, we have been reviewing our security plans to make certain that the precautions that we have in place are being consistently followed in all of our buildings and also to determine what needs to be done to increase our building security in the future. After my last blog, I have had numerous individuals contact me with questions, concerns and ideas for how the district might increase our current security measures. In my response to each of them, I indicated that I would be preparing a second blog to review our current security measures and also discuss some possible changes that will be implemented either now or in the near future to better secure each of our buildings.

    The following is a list of our current security measures and also a list of ideas that we are now exploring to increase building security:

    1) All outside doors will be locked once the school day starts with the exception of the main front doors. The front doors will currently remain unlocked for use by the general public. However, I am currently getting pricing to install a video surveillance and secure entry system for each of our front doors. This system would allow the district to lock all outside entrances to the general public once the school day has begun. After the start of school, all individuals who wanted to enter the building would have to be “buzzed in” by one of our office personnel. It is my hope to have the cost estimates for such a system by early January, so that the possible purchase and means of funding can be discussed by the school board at one of their two January Board of Education meetings.

    2) All district personnel and visitors will be required to wear identification badges in all of our school buildings. District staff members currently have photo identification badges that they will wear so that they can be easily identified. All visitors and vendors will also be required to wear guest identification badges in order to be present in our buildings during the school day.

    3) Every school building will practice intruder/lockdown drills. The students in grades K-5 will practice these drills at least four times per year and the students in grades 6-12 will practice these drills at least two times per year.

    4) All staff and substitute staff will be trained in security procedures on an annual basis. Currently each of our buildings has a crisis management flip chart that is updated on an annual basis by the district’s safety committee. The district’s safety committee currently meets on a monthly basis to review and make recommendations on district safety and security issues.

    5)  The district is examining different methods to notify all staff members instantly about a crisis situation that may be or is occurring in a district building. This communication method will be designed to provide information without creating panic or any undue disturbance.

    6) Should a security situation arise within the district, information will be provided to the public by means of postings on the district website and eblasts. The district is also currently examining an alternative communication system that would allow messages to be sent directly to all cell phones and landlines.

    7) Each of our school buildings currently has a student services team that meets weekly to discuss students who may be experiencing mental, emotional or social issues. These teams are staffed with district professionals who can help identify various student needs. Once a student has been identified, the district either finds a way to provide the needed service directly or works with the parents/guardians to indentify outside organizations or personnel that can help provide the individual with the physical or mental assistance needed.

    8) The Mount Horeb Police Department will be working closely with school district personnel to do a security audit of each school building. The district will use this information to make any necessary adjustments in our security planning.

    I hope that you have found this information informative and helpful. Please know that we will do everything possible to insure the safety of our students and staff. I would like to thank each of you for your suggestions, ideas and support. Working together we can create a stronger, safer place for everyone who comes through our doors.

    Comments (0)
  • Tragedy at Sandy Hook

    Posted by Wayne Anderson at 12/15/2012
    How do you explain the unexplainable?  I am sure that since the tragedy at Sandy Hook occurred almost all of us are asking "Why?" Why would someone want to harm innocent children?  What benefit could possible be gained by hurting innocent individuals and their families?  I don't think anyone has now or will probably ever have the answer to those questions.  As a father and grandfather, I think about what I would feel like if one of my children or grandchildren were in a similar situation and those thoughts create a sense of horror and despair. 
     
    Reflecting upon the tragedy, it is now very natural to ask, "Could something like this ever happen in Mount Horeb?" " How safe are our schools?"  I wish I could make each and every one of you the promise that an event like this could never happen here, but that would be a lie.  I believe that we have a very safe school district and that we have plans and procedures in place to deal with every crisis situations, like an armed intruder; but no plan is ever foolproof.  Last night, I listened as they described the safety procedures that Sandy Hook had in place and their plans and procedures seemed of a very high quality.  They had taken many precautions to keep their buildings secure.  In the next few paragraphs, I will try to outline some of the safety precautions that our schools currently have in place to deal with building security:
     
    1)  Our district has a crisis manual and policy that helps us respond during various emergency situations, such as an intruder.  I will not go into the specifics of our plans because that would possibly compromise the plan's effectiveness.  However, I want you to know that our staff and students practice various drills so that in the event of a crisis situation everyone has practice on how to respond.  It seems a strange coincidence that this past Thursday, the students and staff at the Intermediate Center and Primary Center both carried out intruder drills in their buildings.  I was able to assist in the drill at the Intermediate Center and the staff and students did a fantastic job of doing exactly as they were instructed to do in this type of a situation.
    2)  Once the school day begins, shortly after 8:00 a.m. all of our outside doors are locked, except for the front doors.  This is to limit access to our building and direct all individuals to enter the building in a place that can be monitored.  In our newly renovated Primary Center every individual that enters the building must go through the office area in order to have access to any other part of the building.  In the other buildings, the front entrance is next to the main office area so that individuals need to go either in or by the main office as they enter a building.
    3)  Our High School and Middle School both have camera monitoring systems which allow us to monitor movement both inside and outside of our buildings.  These systems allow individuals to view what is happening both in our hallways and around the exterior of our buildings.
    4)  All of our staff are required to wear identification badges.  If an individuals comes into our building on approved business they are given a visitors identification badge.  These badges allow everyone to know whether or not an individual should be within our school buildings.  All personnel, including me, are required to wear these identification badges in a visible place at all times.  Wearing these badges is a safety measure designed to help secure our buildings.  
    5)  The district has a safety committee that meets on a monthly basis to review all of our safety measures and determine how we can make each of our buildings and our entire district a safer place for students to learn and staff to work.  Our next meeting will focus on what steps we can take to make our current intruder plans more effective.
     
    On  Monday night, December 17, the Board of Education has put this topic on their Board agenda to discuss our current safety procedures and also to discuss how these processes and procedures can be made more effective.  I know that they would welcome your input and participation in this discussion.  Our Board meetings start at 7:00 p.m. and are held in the Middle School Step Room.
     
    I deeply regret that I must write such a blog, especially at this season of the year when one of our greatest wishes is for "peace on earth."  Please know that every staff member within our school district regardless of his or her position or role in the district will strive to protect your children in every possible way.  It is often after such tragedies that we can truly reflect and appreciate what is of greatest value in our lives - people.  Our lives are made richer by the many good, decent and hard working people that we come in contact with each day.  I know that some people do evil and dreadful things, but I also know there are so many more good and decent people in the world and that always give me hope.
     
    If you have any questions or concerns that I can help answer about this or any other issue, please feel free to call me at 437-2400 extension 1211, email me at andersonwayne@mhasd.k12.wi.us or just stop in and talk with me. 
    Comments (0)
  • Snow Day Process

    Posted by Wayne Anderson at 11/26/2012

    This past week, I called my parents in northern Wisconsin to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving.  My parents informed me that on Wednesday the temperature was in the mid-60's and on Thursday evening they received their first major snowstorm of the season.  This was all the inspiration I needed to write this blog.  I have noticed that the time period between Thanksgiving and the start of the winter break is the most likely time to have our first snow day.  The truth be known, I dread the first weather announcement of an impending winter storm.  The weatherman lets everyone know that a potential snow storm is looming and everyone should be glued to their television and radio channel for possible school closings or delays.  Now the anticipation is set.  Everyone starts preparing for a snow day - students are excited about a possible day off and parents start to think of childcare arrangements.  Now the waiting begins - when will the snow start and how much snow will we finally get before the storm subsides.
     
    As I get ready for bed, I set my alarm for 4:00 a.m. because for me this is when the process really begins.  I usually do not sleep well on these nights because I am constantly getting up and looking out the window to see if the snow has started to fall.  If you really want a snow day, you want the snow to start falling around 3:00 a.m. and to last past 11:00 a.m. followed by strong winds. This means that the snow plows do not start their routes until late morning and the roads will probably not be cleared in time for school to start on time.  If the snow and winds are expected to continue throughout the morning then roads will probably not be fully cleared until the afternoon thus causing school to be called off for the full day.  After my alarm rings, I get out of bed and check to see how much, if any, snow has fallen.  If the snow total is small, I go back to bed and re-set my alarm to get up at 5:00 a.m.  At 5:00 a.m., I again check to see what the snow totals look like outside.  Next, I turn on the television set to see what the weather forecast is for the day and watch to see what other school districts might be doing in regards to the snow.  I belong to a calling tree containing all of the Dane County Superintendents.  As a group, we evaluate the weather information that each of us has for our school district and discuss our options.  I then contact our transportation coordinator to find out what our weather provider has told us we can expect for the rest of the day.  Prior to my call, the transportation coordinator has contacted our weather provider and the local townships to get the weather updates for their area and also to find out their plowing schedule.  During our conversation, we weigh the information and discuss whether or not our buses can pick up and deliver our students in a safe manner.  If the decision is "yes, we can pick up and deliver our students safely" the school goes on as scheduled.  If not, then I make the decision to call off school.  I make every attempt to make this call by 5:45 a.m.
     
    Once I have made the decision to call off school for the day, I contact our Transportation Coordinator, Business Manager, Food Service Director, Director of Buildings and Grounds and my secretary.  After these contacts have been made, I contact the television and radio stations.  This usually takes about fifteen minutes.  After making these calls, I check each of the television stations to make certain that they have the correct information posted on their channel.  After I have confirmed that the correct information is available on each channel, I put on my winter coat, gloves and boots and clear off my driveway so that I can get into the office by around 7:00 a.m. to answer any additional questions that individuals might have regarding the snow day.
     
    If school is called off then no sporting events, practices or outside activities are allowed to take place for the entire day.  Building principals and their office staff attempt to make it into their buildings, if possible.  Our custodial and grounds crew work to clear sidewalks and parking lots. 
     
    Sometimes, the weather is fine at the beginning of the day and then turns suddenly worse and results in school being called off early.  The process for calling off school early is similar to the process used to call school off in the early morning hours.  The process usually begins with a weather warning from our weather service provider.  Once we have been made aware that the weather may become treacherous, our Transportation Coordinator contacts the various townships to find out what conditions exist in their area of the school district and their projected plowing schedule.  I am in contact with surrounding school districts to find out what the weather is like in their area and what decisions they may make during the day.  If I feel that our students and staff may be in jeopardy, I make the decision to call off school early.  It takes about two hours from the time of the decision until the buses pick up our students.  The reason for this time lag is that it takes about two hours to assemble our bus fleet. Once I have made the decision to call off school early, I contact the building principals, Food Service Director and Director of Buildings & Grounds to inform them about my decision.  I then contact the television and radio stations to inform them about our decision.  Next, I have an eblast sent out to all parents regarding the decision and have an announcement placed on our webpage.  When school is dismissed early, staff members will stay with our students until everybody has safely left school.

    Please remember that making the decision to hold school or call school off is not an exact science.  I make the decision based on the best available information that I have at the time.  If I make a decision to hold school and you believe that it is in the best interests of your child to keep them home, please do so. 
     
    Thank you for your understanding.  I hope that each and every one of you have a safe and enjoyable winter season.
    Comments (0)
  • 2013-2014 Budget

    Posted by Wayne Anderson at 11/7/2012
    At the end of October, the Board of Education passed the final budget for the 2012-2013 school year.  Now at the beginning of November, the district is starting to work on the 2013-2014 budget.  I know that this might seem a little rushed, but the budget cycle seems to be a never ending process - where you no sooner finalize the budget for one school year before you begin preparation on the next budget year.
     
    I am anticipating that the 2013-2014 budget will be more challenging than some of our past budgets.  My reason for this belief is that the district will start creating a budget based on more assumptions than usual.  Since the State budget has not been created, the district does not know what kind of financing will be provided by the State.  Several years ago, the State provided school districts with a revenue limit increase of approximately $285 per student, this was reduced to $50 per student for the 2012-2013 school year.  Governor Walker will present his draft budget to the Legislature in January 2013.  Since this will be his re-election budget there is some speculation that the per student allotment might go to $200 per student.  If this became a reality, the school district would receive an additional $235,000 in revenue over what we received for the 2012-2013 school year.  However, until the State budget is passed, this number is an assumption and not a fact.  I am optimistic that the State will be able to develop and pass a budget quickly and efficiently because the Republican party is in control of the both the Legislature and the Governor's Office.  Therefore, the 2013-2015 budget presented by Governor Walker to the State Legislature will probably be passed with few revisions.  Once the State budget is passed, then the district can budget on solid numbers rather than assumed numbers.  Another assumption that the district has to make is the number of students that will be attending our school district in the 2013-2014 school year.  On an average year, our school district grows by about 50 new students per year.  However, several years ago our school district actually lost students, so the district tends to be very conservative in estimating student growth.  Our actual student count is taken on the third Friday in September.
     
    The finalization of the 2013-2015 State budget will provide our district with most of the information needed to determine our 2013-2014 revenue limit.  The revenue limit is the revenue the district will receive from the tax levy and State aid for a given school year.  This number provides the district with a good idea of how much money it will be allowed to spend in order to operate our school district.  Estimating how much revenue the district has to spend is half of the equation in creating a budget; the other half of the equation deals with expenditures.  As the Administrative Council starts the budget process, it estimates the amount of revenue that it will have to spend and starts to prioritize the district's expenditures.  Since approximately 85% of the district's budget is spent on personnel costs, we review these expenditures in great detail.  Some of the items that are reviewed include class size, the number and types of staff needed to assist the regular education teachers, possible staff wage increases and estimated fringe benefit increases, such as rising health insurance costs.

    In December, each of the Board Committees will start their discussions on items that they feel need to be addressed in the 2013-2014 budget.  In January, the staff will start working on their supply and equipment budgets so that they have the resources necessary to run their classroom for the upcoming year.  This spring, the Board of Education will meet with both employee unions to discuss possible salary increases for the upcoming year.  In March and April, the Board Committees and full Board of Education will review and discuss the draft budget for the 2013-2014 school year.  In May, the Board of Education will share and discuss the draft budget with the general public.  Finally, in June the Board of Education will vote to approve the budget for the 2013-2014 school year that will start on July 1, 2013.
     
    As I have tried to do during the past two years, I will use my blog to provide you with information dealing with the creation of the 2013-2014 budget.  As I stated at the beginning of my blog, I believe this budget will be quite challenging - money is tight and expenditures continue to rise.  Last year, one step the district took to balance its budget was to reduce each building's and department's supply and material budgets. I do not think this will be an option for the next year.  I know that the Board of Education is committed to passing a budget that will preserve and, where possible, enhance the educational opportunities of our students.  I will keep you apprised of budget developments as they happen, so that you can become an active participant in the process.  In closing, thank you for your continued support and stay tuned for more updates in the future.
    Comments (0)