Madison School Board eyes $317M facilities referendum, $33M operating referendum

Logan Wroge:

The Madison School Board signaled support Monday for a $317 million facilities referendum and a $33 million operating referendum, setting up the board to finalize the ballot questions later this month for the November election.

With several options on the table, board members expressed broad support for a slightly larger facilities referendum that would include more money for projects focused on sustainability and energy efficiency. Additionally, the board gravitated toward a smaller operating referendum than had been proposed.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” board member Kate Toews said during an Operations Work Group meeting. “Investing in kids is the future; investing in the climate is the future.”

Scott Girard:

Board members also indicated support for a slight increase in the capital referendum Monday, from the $315 million that has been discussed in the past up to $317 million. The additional $2 million would go toward sustainability projects not in the initial amount, which includes funding for renovations to the four comprehensive high schools, a new south-side elementary school and moving Capital High School into a single location in the Hoyt school building.

MMSD chief financial officer Kelly Ruppel said it made sense financially given the payoff of sustainability projects within 12 to 13 years.

“(An additional $2 million) literally does not change our estimated mill rate impact for the average homeowner a penny,” Ruppel said. “It barely changes, in pennies, the (total yearly) impact on the average homeowner.”

Notes, links and some data on Madison’s planned 2020 referendum.

“Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a recent 2020 referendum presentation.

Projected enrollment drop means staffing cuts coming in Madison School District

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.