The procedures which common, union high and unified school districts should follow in formulating a budget, holding a public hearing and adopting a budget are set forth in s. 65.90, Wis. Stats. The steps involved in these required procedures are summarized as follows:
The staff and school board create a proposed budget that identifies expected revenues, expenditures and fund balances for the budgeted year in addition to the two fiscal years preceding the budgeted fiscal year. Budget detail is based upon the Wisconsin Uniform Financial Reporting Requirements (WUFAR) hierarchy of accounts (see Budget Adoption Format tab in the Budget Hearing and Adoption workbook).
A class 1 notice (one publication) is published which contains a summary of the proposed budget described in step #1 above, notice of where the detailed budget may be examined and notice of the time and place of the public hearing. Common and union high school districts must hold the budget hearing at the time and place of the annual meeting (see Budget Publication Format tab and Sample Public Hearing Notices tab in the Budget Hearing and Adoption workbook).
The public hearing is held, at which time residents of the district have an opportunity to comment on the proposed budget (see Budget Adoption Format tab in the Budget Hearing and Adoption workbook).
Following the budget hearing, the electors at the annual meeting of common and union high school districts have the power to vote a tax for the purposes set forth in s. 120.10 (6) - (11). The school board of a unified school district has the power to vote the tax.
Sufficient Tax Amount
Section 120.12(3)(a) and (c) require that on or before November 1, a school board must determine if the tax voted at the annual meeting is sufficient to operate and maintain the schools for the school year. If the amount so determined is not sufficient, the school board shall raise the tax. The board may lower the tax if the amount so determined exceeds requirements. The tax levy shall not exceed limits established by s. 121.91. The taxes levied must be certified to municipalities on or before November 10.
The school board shall adopt a budget at a school board meeting scheduled after the public hearing on the proposed budget and no later than the meeting in which the school board sets the annual tax levy amount. This adopted budget is commonly referred to as the legally adopted original budget.
The annual original budget provides the best estimates at the time of adoption of the resources and costs of the activities of the school district for the ensuing months of the school year. As the year progresses, there may be a need to change appropriations and purposes.
Districts are advised to use a budget format which shows amounts appropriated for expenditures according to functions. The reason for using function is that function means purpose, and s. 65.90 requirements apply when appropriations and/or purposes change.
Changes in amounts of appropriation and the purposes (functions) for which they are used must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the school board. A class one notice must be published within 15 days after any change is made per s. 65.90(5)(a) (see Budget Change Format tab in the Budget Hearing and Adoption workbook).
Because such changes range from minor changes to significant ones, a question does arise concerning when the two-thirds vote and publication are required. Pursuant to input from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, school district officials and legal counsel, the Department of Public Instruction recommends that the two-thirds vote and publication are required if the amount of appropriation and the purposes as presented in the line items of the adopted budget are changed. Changes in subordinate line items from which the adopted budget evolved (but which are not detailed in the adopted budget) do not require the two-thirds vote and publication.