Madison School District’s Employee Benefit Discussion

Molly Beck:

Madison school officials are weighing property tax increases, significant program cuts and requiring employees to pay a portion of health insurance premiums to help close a huge budget deficit.

About $6 million could be saved by making aggressive changes to employees’ health care costs, including requiring staff to contribute toward health insurance premiums, renegotiating contracts with health care providers, and making plan changes, Michael Barry, assistant superintendent of business services, told School Board members Monday.

Overall, the district spends about $62 million in employee health care costs, which are expected to grow by about 8.5 percent next school year.

The budget shortfall for the fiscal year that starts July 1 was estimated in January at $10.1 million with the use of all of the district’s taxing authority. But it could jump by $4.1 million if state lawmakers accept Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to cut a special $150 per student funding stream for next school year, and keep revenue limits and general state aid flat.

Now district officials say the deficit in the roughly $400 million budget could be as much as $20.8 million or as low as $12.2 million for the 2015-16 school year, depending on how much of the school district’s unused taxing authority the board agrees to use.

Much more on Madison’s benefit plans and conundrum, here.