The Annual Meeting and School District Finances

The Annual Meeting and School District Finances
Posted on 08/13/2014

Currently there are 424 school districts in Wisconsin. The School District of the Menomonie Area (SDMA) is one of 377 Wisconsin school districts that will be hosting an annual school district meeting this year. According to state statute, every common and union high school district is required to hold an annual meeting at which district electors are able to provide input and vote on specific items described in state law. While the school board is charged by statute with the care, control, and management of the property and affairs of the school district, this charge is subject to the authority vested in the annual school district meeting (Wisconsin Association of School Boards, 2014).

The 2014 annual meeting of the School District of the Menomonie Area will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, August 25. Preceding the annual meeting will be a committee meeting of the SDMA Board of Education at 5:00 p.m., and the annual budget hearing which is scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. Due to construction in the school district and for the convenience of everyone, each of these meetings will be held in the commons area at Menomonie Middle School.

Understanding all of the details of school finance in Wisconsin can be quite complex, but there are a few key components of the budgeting process that make it easier for the general public to understand the school district’s budget. The fiscal year in Wisconsin school districts runs from July 1 to June 30. During the preceding school year, the school board and school district staff will develop a preliminary budget on which many decisions for the following school year will be made. Since approximately 80% of the school district’s budget is designated for staffing, much of the district’s budget is determined when contracts are issued in the spring.  At the annual meeting and budget hearing (coming up in August), the public has the opportunity to provide input on the school district’s budget and operations, and, in October, the school board is charged with approving a final budget and setting the annual tax levy. Any major budget adjustments during the year are approved by the Board and published for electors, and the annual audit is completed and made available to the public before January 1.

While the school board has control of most school district expenses, increasing state and federal mandates and new expectations related to technology, curriculum, and instruction continue to absorb more of the budget. The large majority of school district revenue is comprised of the local tax levy, state aid, and some funding from the federal government.  Nearly all of the district’s revenue is controlled by state revenue limits that are dependent on student enrollment. The school tax levy is largely affected by state aid which is mostly determined by property valuation, enrollment, and prior year spending in Menomonie and the rest of the state.

All school district stakeholders are invited to attend the annual meeting, but there is no need to wait until the meeting to share your questions, concerns, or suggestions related to the operations of our school district. The school district has procedures in place to encourage public participation in our decision-making processes, and I invite you to visit the Administrative Service Center on Pine Avenue or contact me at 715-232-1642 if  you have any questions or concerns about our schools.  More information about our schools can be found on the school district website ( and I regularly post school-related information on Twitter (