Board OK DPI exemption for private school transport costs | New


After a public hearing, the Sun Prairie School Board voted unanimously to request a state waiver to use the 2019-2020 rates for the 2021-22 school year for the rates it charges parents for. transporting children to private schools outside of the Sun Prairie area school. District.

A report from staff to the board indicates that several districts have contacted the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) about parent transportation contracts to private schools, which is an option for districts when the cost of a student’s transportation. would be significantly above average.

State law specifies that the minimum amount for these contracts is the greater of $ 5 per mile or per student transportation costs from the previous year, excluding specialty transportation and kindergarten.

The report by Phil Frei, director of business and finance for SPASD, and Rhonda Page, director of business services for SPASD, said districts that contacted DPI said they feared transportation costs would remain. stable as ridership declined due to COVID-19 in 2020-2021.

“The result is an artificially inflated average per student for the 2021-22 contracts, so districts would like to offer contracts using the amounts from the previous year (2020-21 contracts based on 2019-20 data),” says The report.

The district can notify parents of its intention to offer contracts before school begins, meeting the 30-day requirement. Then, the Sun Prairie School Board can apply to the DPI for a waiver of the minimum parenting contract.

“As with all waiver requests,” the report says, “the board must specify the reason for requesting a waiver and hold a public hearing before submitting the request.”

Average transportation costs per student in the district were $ 460.90 in 2019-2020 and $ 1,065.12 in 2020-21. This exemption request only applies to the 2021-22 school year. The total cost difference between the paying parents the 2019-2020 amount and the 2020-2021 amount is $ 29,223.

David and Kelly Bakke, whose two children have attended Abundant Life Christian School in Madison for 15 years, tried to use a federal mileage standard to calculate the amount for a 22 mile round trip between their home and Abundant Life. .

At $ 11 per day multiplied by the 180-day school year, the Bakkes calculated that the amount should be $ 1,980 for the year.

“We have owned Sun Prairie for 19 years,” the Bakkes wrote in their letter regarding the cost of bus transportation, “and have paid property taxes for the Sun Prairie Public School without our children using the public schools. . We believe that the amount of $ 1,065.12 is certainly a fair reimbursement for our child’s transportation costs.

In response, Frei pointed out that the federal calculation of mileage has nothing to do with how the cost is calculated. Instead, it is based on what the district paid to the SPASD bus provider, Kobussen. He also said that the SPASD follows the recommendations of the DPI on how to calculate the cost.

The total number of students to whom the fee applies is 43, Page said.

Board chairman Steve Schroeder said he was against public school districts providing buses for private school students, but would vote for the waiver as it is permitted by the state law.

The board voted unanimously to approve the exemption and use the 2019-2020 transportation costs per student.

Annual meeting on October 4 to review distribution

In reviewing upcoming meetings, Schroeder noted that the annual Sun Prairie Area School District Voters’ Meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 4 starting at 6 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at Sun Prairie High School, located at 888 Grove St.

Voters are expected to:

• elect a chairperson for the meeting;

• Listen to a summary of Frei’s 2021-2022 budget;

• Hold a public hearing and review the proposed budget;

• Listen to the report from the Treasurer of the Board Treasurer, Dave Hoekstra;

• Set the annual salaries of board members for 2021-2022 and reimburse the expenses of school board members;

• Consider other business authorized at an annual assembly of electors;

• Set the levy of the property tax for the 2021-22 school year; and

• Consider a petition filed by residents of the district for a distribution plan for school board members. The plan divides the board of directors into three seats each for the eastern and western parts of the district and makes a seventh “general” seat elected by the district voters.

Council resumes face-to-face meetings on October 11

The Sun Prairie School Board will hold its first full in-person meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday, October 11 at 6 p.m., with a location to be determined.

“This meeting is scheduled to be a face-to-face meeting for board members, directors and members of the public,” reads the notice of the upcoming board meeting. “[The] venue is being finalized and will be published in the legal notice of the meeting. A live broadcast will also be available on KSUN.

The board has announced plans to continue the live in-person meetings with its meeting on Monday, October 25, also with a location to be announced.

Sun Prairie City Council has balked at allowing members of the public to attend its meetings, questioning the immunization status of those who could attend meetings in person in the Sun Prairie City Council Chamber. The council also allowed some alders to attend virtually, although all eight were on site when the alders returned to the council chamber in August.

The Dane County Supervisory Board continues to meet virtually.

The Sun Prairie School Board has allowed board members to attend virtually, but most have attended in person at one point or another with administrative assistant Chandu Vermuri and District Superintendent Brad Saron since early February. Most of the directors and presenters attended the board meetings virtually.

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