A. Alignment to Strategic Framework- In our vision to make every school a thriving school that prepares every student to be ready for college, career and community, these budget resources support the district’s goals and priorities as defined in our Strategic Framework.
B. More equitable use of resources- As opposed to equal funding, which provides the same level of support to each school, equitable distribution of resources takes into account the needs of each school based on enrollment and student demographics.
C. Transparency in budget development- Transparency in the budget process creates greater awareness and accountability. For internal purposes, it enables central office departments and schools to take more ownership of their goals, priorities, and plans for improvement. For external audiences, transparency results in a more readable and informative budget document.
While working towards achieving these goals, the district is also committed to minimizing the tax levy and demonstrating strong stewardship of our public funds, as well as complying with legally required mandates.
- General and Categorical Aid – Payments to School Districts
- WISTAX Facts & Figures
- Madison Schools 2013-2014 June 10, 2013 Budget Discussion Document (PDF)
- Wisconsin State Tax Based K-12 Spending Growth Far Exceeds University Funding
- Up, Down & Transparency: Madison Schools Received $11.8M more in State Tax Dollars last year, Local District Forecasts a Possible Reduction of $8.7M this Year – March, 2013. The June 10, 2013 District budget document (PDF) fails to mention the previous year’s large increase in redistributed State of Wisconsin tax dollars:
Like all Wisconsin school districts, MMSD relies upon a state-local funding partnership. The actions of one partner greatly impact the other partner. The 2013-14 MMSD budget anticipates a major funding loss for MMSD (a loss of $8.7 in equalization aid) which shifts the funding burden onto the local property taxpayer.
The charts reveal several larger stories:
First, the State of Wisconsin “committed” to 2/3 K-12 funding in the mid-1990’s. The increase in redistributed state tax dollars is apparent. [Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau: State Aid to School Districts (PDF)]
Second, Madison’s substantial real estate growth during the 2000’s supported growing K-12 spending while reducing the property tax rate (the overall pie grew so the “rate” could fall somewhat). The real estate music stopped in the late 2000’s (“Great Recession) and the tax rate began to grow again as the District consistently raised property taxes. *Note that there has been justifiable controversy over Madison’s large number of tax exempt properties. Fewer exemptions expands the tax base and (potentially) reduces individual homeowner’s taxes.
Third, Madison has long spent more per student than most public schools.
Fourth, the District’s June 10, 2013 budget document fails to address two core aspects of its mission: total spending and program effectiveness. The most recent 2012-2013 District budget number (via a Matthew DeFour email) is $392,789,303. This is up 4.4% from the July, 2012 District budget number: $376,200,000. The District’s budget has always – in my nine years of observation – increased throughout the school year. The late, lamented “citizen’s budget” was a short lived effort to create a standard method to track changes over time.
Fifth, the June 10, 2013 document does not include the District’s “Fund balance” or equity. The balance declined during the 2000’s, somewhat controversially, but it has since grown. A current number would be useful, particularly in light of Madison’s high property taxes.
Sixth, I took a quick look at property taxes in Middleton and Madison on a $230,000 home. A Middleton home paid $4,648.16 in 2012 while a Madison home paid 16% more, or $5,408.38. Local efforts to significantly increase property taxes may grow the gap with Middleton.
Finally, years of spending and tax growth have not addressed the District’s long term-disastrous reading results. Are we doing the same thing over and over?