Commentary on Madison’s planned 2020 tax and spending increase referendum

Scott Girard:

In the midst of economic collapse, the Madison School Board is likely to decide in June or July whether to ask taxpayers for additional funds through November referenda.

But most board members stated their support for putting both questions on the ballot during a discussion Monday night. Each of the seven board members spoke of their continued support for the questions, though some asked to see more of the economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic before voting.

“We definitely need it,” board president Gloria Reyes said. “It’s just, given the economic instability and what this does to our taxpayers … I think we have to also be responsible and figuring out, is this the best route for our taxpayers right now given people losing jobs?”

Board member Savion Castro said the pandemic, “which is already exacerbating so many disparities across the board,” has shown “now is not the time to cut back our investment into public education for our students and our teachers.”

“Going into March there was a sense that this was really needed,” Castro said. “After COVID, it’s just underscored even more how badly our public schools need this investment from our community and I think we have a responsibility to be honest about that need.”

Before the pandemic, the board was planning to approve the questions for the November ballot with a March vote. Two weeks before that meeting, schools closed across the state of Wisconsin by order of the governor and public health officials.

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.

Madison K-12 Spending up 19% from 2014-2020

Notes, links and commentary on Madison’s planned 2020 tax and spending increase referendum plans.

Meanwhile, the City of Madison is planning furloughs…