Prescott School Board explains what’s at stake for the kids

Gives another overview of proposed operating referendum

By Nicole Rogers
Posted 3/27/24

PRESCOTT – One of main discussions of the March 20 Prescott School Board meeting centered once again around the upcoming referendum. The board recommunicated what would be at stake if the …

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Prescott School Board explains what’s at stake for the kids

Gives another overview of proposed operating referendum


PRESCOTT – One of main discussions of the March 20 Prescott School Board meeting centered once again around the upcoming referendum. The board recommunicated what would be at stake if the operating referendum does not pass on April 2. Superintendent Dr. Rick Spicuzza directed all to the school website which provides facts, figures and graphs regarding the financial state of the district and why the referendum is necessary to keep it operating at its current level.

The presentation showed evidence of the district’s fiscal responsibility in that the school board prepaid a building bond, saving taxpayers nearly $1 million in interest payments and another $450,000 of principal and interest. Improvements to infrastructure avoided costly repairs and created energy savings. And as a measure of good faith, the board and administration have made budget cuts of $650,000.

Board President Mike Matzek reassured all, that what will happen to the operations of the district is not a scare tactic but is based on facts; drastic cuts will need to occur if the referendum fails. Spicuzza explained what will be at stake for the kids. Due to having to cut staff, class sizes will be larger and PSD would not be able to retain current in-town bus routes. In grades K-5, there would be a reduction of programs that support kids that struggle academically and reduction of programs other than the basic instruction. In grades 6-12, if the referendum fails, there would be reduced theater and music programs and performances, C-teams may need to be eliminated, there would be increased class sizes and a reduction of options or electives.

There is no denying that taxes would go up from 2024, but the mill rate would be comparable to 2022-23, which is 8.5, Spicuzza said. Historically, the school mill rate has gone from 12.19 in 2015 to 7.7 in 2024, with a bump to 10.23 in 2022 for the approved building referendum. Spicuzza said referendum tax impact based on fair market property value would be an additional $13 monthly or $160 annually for property worth $200,000: $20 per month or $240 annually for property worth $300,000 and $27 monthly or $320 annually for property worth $400,000.

Early in the meeting, during recognition of visitors, Stuart Polk, a parent of students at Prescott, said he would like to know what effects Act 11 and 19 had on the district; his research found the district received $527,000 of extra funding and for the 2024-25 school year, he believes the district will be receiving an estimated $980,000 additional funding. He posed this question again at the end of the meeting during public comment. Polk said he understands that the board needs to look at the numbers and get back to him.

“I agree with you guys, the state has failed, right? Full disclosure, I talked to our state rep and that's exactly where I got these numbers. And his response, although I did vote for him, probably wasn't the greatest. But at the same time, you know, some numbers were there but for some grace of God, I guess if the state pulls their heads out of you know where, what's the difference plan then with this levying? We already have one in place and that's going to be additional, on top of this. There's no limitation on it. And that's, full disclosure, is my biggest issue with it is that it's a lot of money for the school.”

Polk said he voted in favor of the building referendum and he came to this area not just because it was beautiful but for the school district.

Although not customary to answer following the last visitor comment, President Matzek replied, “You can levy up to $1.2 million here in this case, but if we don't need it at all, then we wouldn't have to levy it all. It gives us the flexibility, to say we levy up to $1.2 million and the state comes down with a financial windfall by miracle, by happenstance, and then it basically gives us the right not to levy as much. We don't have to levy 1.2 we can levy less.”

Another visitor stepped up to encourage residents to vote yes to the referendum for the sake of the parents and students.

“I just want to offer an alternative perspective about why I will be voting for the referendum on April 2. I don't understand school funding and now I spent the last three years researching all things school district and I still don't understand school funding. So, here's why. Someone out there is a daughter or a son… mine have already benefited from this experience at this high school. But there's another kid out there who will refuse to go to school for a very long time. Who will need special ed. Who will need the safety of a choir room and social emotional learning? And I will be voting yes to support that kid and that parent who will desperately need the special ed team to guide them through this and the special ed teachers, the principals, and the people who've listened when you try and encounter and navigate through your kids growing up. I try to intake all the financials, but I vote for that kid and that parent who need the school, need that special education, need that quiet room which saved my daughter's life.”

Winter coaches review seasons

Varsity coaches shared the good news of the past sports season. Wrestling Coach Ian Ruble gave a season review and introduced one of Prescott’s first female wrestlers, Charlette Kellog. Girls wrestling in the state has doubled in numbers in the past year and he is excited to keep this rolling.

“This was my first year wrestling,” said Kellogg. “And I learned a lot and I got to wrestle in a lot of the meets. I got to surround myself in a good community. I really enjoyed wrestling and I want to do it or continue to do it for the rest of high school.”

Coach Ruble concluded by saying “The team grew together, definitely had a great time and we're looking forward to next year.”

Girls’ Head Basketball Coach Owen Hamilton gave an overview of their season and brought up players Violet Otto and Rory Zuehlsdorf.

“This year we finished with the record of 16 and 10 and in my opinion was one of the hardest schedules in our conference, if not our entire state,” Hamilton reported. “We lost in the regional final unfortunately to Somerset. Overall, it was a successful year. Some of the highlights would include our trip down to Kenosha, which was right after Christmas, where we raised money to go down and take a trip that not many teams in this area could attend. Other highlights, Violet Otto finishing eighth in the Division 3, three-point shooting was one highlight. We finished the month of January 7-1. So overall, I believe it was a good year and I believe that the two girls up here are hungry for next season and looking forward to what's to come.”

Boys’ Head Basketball Coach Nick Johnson spoke next and brought along players Mason Schommer and Dallas Wallin.

“This is my 13th year as a varsity basketball coach, and we had a phenomenal season,” he said. “We really did, from top to bottom, we were 21 and 7. We finished 12 and 2 in conference and, as both coaches mentioned, our conferences here was… if every single night if you didn't bring it you were going to get beat. For us to go and take conference this year with some injuries but we dealt with it… well it was a very successful season in our conference.”

Johnson expressed the pride he had in this team and how the team fought hard at the state tournament.

Other business

  • The board approved the defeasance resolution and it was noted these dollars can only be used for voter-approved capital improvement.
  • High School Principal Josh Fiege presented the Early College Credit resolution which the state mandates all schools offer to students. He explained the state pledged to fund 25% of the reimbursement but it now only covers 91% of that 25%. The board approved the ECC fall applicants as the courses are not already covered at PSD and the applicants have applied within the deadline.
  • The board approved the retirement addendum presented last month which extended the retirement deadline to April 30. This offers the ability for those who would like to retire early if the referendum should fail, to preserve the job of younger staff members.
  • The Non-Discrimination Report and Civil Rights Data Collection was presented. Every five years, school districts are required to review the data under school board policy and under Wisconsin statutes. The report published on the website includes an introduction to the purpose of the report and who participated in the review of the data. Recommendations going forward for the district is to streamline the staff perception questionnaire for ease in comparing data trends from year to year. Further, to continue its work on equitable practices to ensure every student can access high quality education, resources, scholarships and participate in extra-curricular activities. See the full report at>district>non-discrimination-policy.



Prescott School District, Prescott School Board, operating referendum, April 2, vote, Prescott