Milwaukee Schools finding way around budget cap

Alan Borsuk:

A path for getting around a state-imposed cap on how much a school district can spend is allowing Milwaukee Public Schools to add driver’s education programs, fund more arts programs, maintain after-school centers that are losing federal aid and even add a position to the staff of the School Board.
The path means there will be fewer invasive plant species to be seen at two nature preserves owned by MPS.
But it also means property taxes will be going up more than they otherwise would.
In two years, the School Board has raised the amount being collected through what is called its extension fund by almost 60%, which comes to an increase of about $8 for each resident of the city.
The growing interest in using the extension fund to support initiatives in MPS was evident Thursday night and Friday morning as the board approved amendments to the proposed budget for 2007-’08 that added more than $500,000 in spending to the fund.

The Madison School District’s growing use of Fund 80 (expenditures outside the state revenue caps) has been the subject of some controversy.