Property Tax Increase Climate: Madison’s Proposed 2015 Spending Referendum

A variety of notes and links on the planned 2015 Madison School District Property Tax Increase referendum:

Madison Schools’ PDF Slides on the proposed projects. Ironically, Madison has long supported a wide variation in low income distribution across its schools. This further expenditure sustains the substantial variation, from Hamilton’s 18% low income population to Black Hawk’s 70%.

A single data point (!) comparison of Dane County School Districts: Ideally, the District would compare per student spending, operating expenditures on facilities, staffing and achievement rather than one data point.

Where have all the students gone? Madison area school district enrollment changes: 1995-2013.

Pat Schneider:

Comments on the school district’s website range from support for the project to concern about the cost and how it was decided which schools would get improvements.

One poster complained about being asked to pay more property taxes when income is not rising. A parent suggested that more space should be added now — rather than later — at west side Hamilton Middle/Van Hise Elementary School, where $2.53 million in improvements would add classrooms and a shared library, allowing current library space to be used for classrooms. Better yet, build a whole new middle school, the parent suggested.

A parent whose children attend Schenk Elementary/Whitehorse Middle school on the east side was disgusted at what were described as inconvenient, even dangerous student drop-off conditions. Another parent at Schenk said overcrowding means kids don’t eat lunch until after 1 p.m.

“It’s hard to concentrate when you’re hungry — why didn’t these schools make the list?” he asked.

Another poster took the Madison school district to task for not routinely maintaining and modernizing buildings to avoid high-ticket renovations like that planned at Mendota.

From the campaign trail:

“I had been in the private sector and I felt like half my paycheck was going to insurance.”

Middleton’s property taxes for a comparable home are 16% less than Madison’s.

Aging Societies.

Scale, progressivity, and socioeconomic cohesion.

Finally, a number of questions were raised about expenditures from the 2005 maintenance referendum. I’ve not seen any public information on the questions raised several years ago.

Bill Moyers on declining household income.