K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Dear districts: These are the glory days. Are you ready for tomorrow’s financial pain?

Marguerite Roza:

Psst, districts! We’ve seen this script before.

Back in 2008, it’s a fair bet that most school systems didn’t know they were in a financial boom before the Great Recession unleashed the bust, filling subsequent years with program cuts, furloughs, school closures, and fights about seniority-based layoffs. Today, signs suggest we’re once again at a peak, with a likely financial stumble headed our way.

Just like the years leading up to 2008, the last few years have yielded stronger growth in funds for schooling. And just like in 2008, there are signs of trouble ahead. For districts, a fiscal downturn can trigger the equivalent of a debilitating migraine: Pain comes from every direction and little seems to quell it.

While we can’t predict how an economic downturn will affect every district, we can anticipate some big-picture trends, and in doing so potentially tweak the script.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts. This, despite tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.