“Madison Schools Referendum Prospects Look Good”

Jason Shephard:

November’s referendum seeks to permanently increase the revenue cap for operating costs by $5 million in 2009-10, and an additional $4 million in both 2010-11 and 2011-12, for a total of $13 million. These increases would be permanent.
The projected tax hike on an average $250,000 home is $27.50 in 2009, $70.60 in 2010, and $91.50 in 2011, for a total three-year increase of $189.60.
To demonstrate fiscal discipline, Nerad has committed to making $1 million in cuts this year, including $600,000 in staff positions, even if the referendum passes. And Nerad pledges $2.5 million in additional spending cuts in the two subsequent years. The district will also transfer $2 million from its cash balance to offset the budget deficit.
Other savings will come from a new fund that allows the district to spread out capital costs over a longer period of time, remove some costs from the operating budget, and receive more state aid.
“We are committed to making reductions, finding efficiencies and being good stewards of tax dollars,” Nerad says. “We realize this is a difficult time for people. At the same time, we have an obligation to serve our children well.”
Don Severson, head of the fiscally conservative watchdog group Active Citizens for Education and a persistent referendum critic, wishes the district would have developed its new strategic plans before launching a ballot initiative.
“This money is to continue the same services that have not provided increases in student achievement” and come with no guarantees of program evaluations or instructional changes, Severson says.

Much more on the November, 2008 Madison referendum here.