In the first major test for newly hired Superintendent Daniel Nerad, Madison school officials this week will begin public discussions of whether to ask voters for additional money to head off a potentially “catastrophic” $8.2 million budget gap for the 2009-10 school year.
The Madison School Board’s meetings in August will be dominated by talk of the possible referendum, which could appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The public will be invited to speak out at forums on Aug. 12 and 14.
- Madison School District Budget history. The current 2008-2009 budget is $367,806,712, up from $339,685,844 in 2007-2008 (the 08/09 budget includes $17M for a new far west side school). The “final” budget numbers typically change a number of times throughout the year as new tax revenues appear (schools receive tax dollars via local property taxes, redistributed state income and sales taxes and some federal income taxes. Formulas, legislation and grants often change, including those based on enrollment).
- Listen to Monday evening’s referendum discussion via this 28MB mp3 audio file
- There has been some progress in addressing the district’s much discussed health care costs
- Tax & spending referendum climate.
Props to the District for finding a reduced spending increase of $1,000,000 and looking for more (The same service budget growth, given teacher contract and other increases vs budget growth limits results in the “gap” referred to in Hall’s article above). Happily, Monday evening’s referendum discussion included a brief mention of revisiting the now many years old “same service” budget approach (28mb mp3, about 30 minutes). A question was also raised about attracting students (MMSD enrollment has been flat for years). Student growth means additional tax and spending authority for the school district.
The Madison school board has been far more actively involved in financial issues recently. Matters such as the MMSD’s declining equity (and related structural deficit) have been publicly discussed. A very useful “citizen’s budget” document was created for the 2006-2007 ($333M) and 2007-2008 ($339M) (though the final 2007-2008 number was apparently $365M) budgets. Keeping track of changes year to year is not a small challenge.