Notes and Commentary on Madison’s Planned 2020-2021 K-12 Budget

Kelly Meyerhofer:

The $476.1 million proposed spending package would increase property taxes by $46 for the owner of an average-value home in the district, now estimated at $311,500.

Faced with an $8 million shortfall at the beginning of crafting the 2020-21 budget, district officials propose cutting nearly 50 staff positions and doubling the share employees pay for health care premiums.

The total budget, which includes payments on debt service, capital maintenance and community programs, would slightly decrease from current-year spending, but the property tax levy would rise 2.9% to $339.5 million. The district’s portion of property taxes on an average-value home is estimated at $3,386 next year, or a 1.4% increase, in the preliminary budget.

Operating expenses — which include costs such as teachers’ salaries and classroom instruction — make up $432 million of the budget. The operating budget would decrease 0.22% from current spending levels.

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.