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A Note From Superintendent Swanson | Feb. 7
Dear Westminster Community,
For many of us, the end of January and the first week of February means we pay a lot of attention to what’s happening on the football field and who will be playing on Super Bowl Sunday.
It is a lot of fun.
But for our Board of Education, the WPS finance and administrative teams this is also a time to break out the calculators, brew some coffee, and find a good pair of reading glasses.
It is budget season, and right now we are making some critical decisions about the 2024-25 WPS budget and how our community’s hard-earned tax dollars will be spent. Every one of our schools and departments has created a detailed budget that will be scrutinized by accountability teams at the building and district levels, as well as representative departments.
We take these decisions very seriously and I want to give you a broad overview of how we make those decisions.
First, you should know that between 70 and 80 percent of our budget goes to support our teachers and staff.
Education is a “people intensive” enterprise and when voters approved our mill levy override in 2018, they agreed with us that one of the top priorities should be the attraction and retention of high-quality staff. That philosophical approach allowed us to offer the highest starting teacher salary in the state and raise our minimum wage to $20 an hour.
You might also be interested to know that we use a zero-based budgeting approach in which departments and schools build their budgets from scratch as opposed to basing decisions solely on the prior year’s budget. This approach forces our staff to take a fresh look at their budgets every year and allows for flexibility and prioritization.
Finally, we have our Destination 2030 Strategic Plan to provide a big picture view of our priorities and make sure that our resources and dollars align with the plan.
I have to admit, putting together a budget is not as much fun as watching the Super Bowl, but it is really important work. I might add, we too, have some MVP's on our team helping us make the best possible decisions.
Dr. Pamela Swanson
Superintendent of Schools