Notes on Madison’s $581M 2023-2024 K-12 Budget; property tax increases

Scott Girard

In total, the 2023-24 preliminary budget spends $581 million. The board will vote on a final budget in October after enrollment is finalized.

The budget includes a deficit of $15 million for this year, but $11.5 million in ongoing costs are covered by one-time federal COVID-19 relief money that won’t be available next fall — meaning the 2024-25 budget is starting in a much larger hole.

That means the district will likely need to make cuts and ask voters in another referendum for more property taxes to fund operations. Former School Board member Christina Gomez Schmidt, who led the committee that developed the budget this spring until she left her seat in April, said during public comment Monday that “overextending the current budget will create challenging budgets going forward.”

“This budget will make the fiscal cliff even higher without a plan that I can see to address the long-term shortfall it will create,” she said, acknowledging the importance of investing in staff.

Current board members have also acknowledged the difficult year ahead, and interim Superintendent Lisa Kvistad, at her first full board meeting in the role Monday, said the budget “demonstrates how we value our staff” and invests in classrooms.

“While federal pandemic funding will go away after this fiscal year, our needs will not,” Kvistad said. “Therefore, the board of education, myself and my cabinet will continue to look at where we can adjust, repurpose and find additional sources of revenue.

“We have decisions to make, and we can make them together.”

Tax rates will drop from $9.97 per $1,000 of property value to $9.10. With home assessments increasing, though, the average homeowner will pay an additional $104.05 toward the school district, according to the preliminary budget.

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