Survey sent to Madison teachers details potential for cuts

Scott Girard:

A survey from Madison Metropolitan School District administration outlines the potential for more budget cuts coming amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with wage freezes and staff cuts among the options administrators are considering.

The two-question survey, sent to staff Friday, states that the district expects an additional $5 million to $9 million budget cut from the state legislature in the form of a budget repair bill to deal with revenue shortfalls related to the pandemic. It also asks teachers about their plans for the fall whether they would return to school in-person or work only virtually.

Madison Teachers Inc. discouraged members from responding to the survey in a Facebook post.

“We are urging you NOT to complete the District’s survey on budget priorities until MTI leadership has an opportunity to speak with MMSD affirming MTI’s role in representing you in negotiations around wages and discussions around changes to the Employee Handbook,” the post stated. “We need a unified voice and holding the survey until we’ve discussed these issues will send a message that we are united.”

The two options being considered to deal with the budget cuts, according to photos of the survey sent to the Cap Times, would be cutting 92 FTE positions while maintaining compensation increases or freezing most wage increases for one year while avoiding any FTE position elimination. The first option would also require updated staffing plans for the fall, according to the survey.

A letter sent to staff Thursday to let them know about the survey, which was posted to Facebookby School Board member Nicki Vander Meulen, stated there was still uncertainty about the size of the cuts.

“Given that 82% of our budget is in staffing related costs, we will not be able to move forward without some impact to our personnel budgets,” the letter said. “Finally, we are advocating with our partners at the local, state and federal levels to protect public education during times like these.”

Madison’s 37% Property Tax Growth (2012 – 2021)