Commentary on Madison’s April 7, 2015 Maintenance Referendum; District spending data remains MIA

Molly Beck: If approved, the referendum would raise property taxes about $62 on the average $237,678 Madison home for 10 years. The district is still paying off $30 million in referendum debt for the construction of Olson and Chavez elementary schools in the late 2000s, according to the district. The final payment, for the Olson … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s April 7, 2015 Maintenance Referendum; District spending data remains MIA

Property Tax Increase Climate: Madison’s Proposed 2015 Spending Referendum

A variety of notes and links on the planned 2015 Madison School District Property Tax Increase referendum: Madison Schools’ PDF Slides on the proposed projects. Ironically, Madison has long supported a wide variation in low income distribution across its schools. This further expenditure sustains the substantial variation, from Hamilton’s 18% low income population to Black … Continue reading Property Tax Increase Climate: Madison’s Proposed 2015 Spending Referendum

Madison School District projects loss of 1,100 students over next five years expected, yet 2020 referendum planning continues

Scott Gerard: Between now and the 2024-25 school year, the district will lose another 1,347 students, according to district projections. Since the 2011-12 school year when MMSD added 4-year-old kindergarten, the district has always had at least 26,000 students. Projections show it will drop below that in 2024-25 for the first time since. Projections from Vandewalle … Continue reading Madison School District projects loss of 1,100 students over next five years expected, yet 2020 referendum planning continues

Commentary on a proposed 2020 Madison K-12 Tax & Spending Increase Referendum

Logan Wroge: If voters were to approve a $150 million referendum, the owner of a $300,000 house — near the median-value home in the district of $294,833 — could have their property taxes increase by $93 annually, according to district estimates. A larger referendum of $280 million is estimated to raise property taxes on a … Continue reading Commentary on a proposed 2020 Madison K-12 Tax & Spending Increase Referendum

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Another Madison Referendum in the works

Negassi Tesfamichael: In 2015, Madison voters authorized a $41 million school facility improvement plan that addressed needs in 16 schools across the district. “I think our schools need (upgrades), but at the same point, I don’t want to force someone out of their home, which I’ve seen happen to some friends in Middleton because they … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Another Madison Referendum in the works

Madison Schools 2016 Property Tax Increase Referendum – Let’s Compare: Madison and Middleton Property Taxes

The Madison School District is considering another property tax increase referendum for the upcoming November election. We’ve long spent more than most districts (“plenty of resources”), despite challenging academic outcomes. I thought it might be useful to revisit the choices homeowners and parents make. I’ve compared two properties, one in Middleton (2015 assessment: $257,500.00) and … Continue reading Madison Schools 2016 Property Tax Increase Referendum – Let’s Compare: Madison and Middleton Property Taxes

On the Proposed Madison Schools’ Tax & Spending Fall, 2016 Referendum

Madison School District PDF: We also know that MMSD has no extra factors to boost local revenues. Extra revenue factors, such as unused levy authority, General Fund Balance reserves, before considering a referendum to exceed the revenue limit, it is necessary to understand the tax levy forecast before any additional taxing authority. We have identified … Continue reading On the Proposed Madison Schools’ Tax & Spending Fall, 2016 Referendum

2015-2016 Madison Traditional Public Schools’ Enrollment Data

Madison School District Administration (PDF): 1. Enrollment is down slightly (0.3%) since last year. Enrollment projection begin to climb again in 2017-18. 2. Six elementary schools are over capacity this year. Referendum-funded construction eliminates overcrowding among these schools in the five-year projection. 3. Most students continue to attend their home attendance area. This year 60% … Continue reading 2015-2016 Madison Traditional Public Schools’ Enrollment Data

Madison Schools’ 2015-2016 $413,703,424 Budget Update

Curriculum and units of instruction in English and Spanish Language Arts and designed and launched for entire school year Re-design of summer school plan completed to expand access through increased enrollment and attendance First phase of Parent Academy launched with new course offerings this summer Academic tutoring framework completed to ensure that all tutoring services … Continue reading Madison Schools’ 2015-2016 $413,703,424 Budget Update

K-12 Tax, Spending & Referendum Climate: Global Debt has risen by $57 Trillion Since the Financial Crisis

Neil Irwin: Here are two things we know about how debt affects the economy. First, in the abstract it doesn’t matter. For every debtor there is a creditor, and in theory an economy should be able to hum along just fine whether a country’s citizens have a great deal of debt or none. A company’s … Continue reading K-12 Tax, Spending & Referendum Climate: Global Debt has risen by $57 Trillion Since the Financial Crisis

K-12 Tax, Referendum & Spending Climate

John Judis: Jerry is in his late 50s. He is a sales representative in Southern Maryland for a multinational corporation. He has a college degree and makes about $80,000 a year. He considers himself a “moderate Democrat.” He voted for Obama in 2008 and O’Malley in 2010. He says of Obama in 2008, “He was … Continue reading K-12 Tax, Referendum & Spending Climate

K-12 Tax, Spending and Referendum Climate: Middle Class Shrinks Further as More Fall Out Instead of Climbing Up

Dionne Searcey & Robert Gebelhoff: The middle class that President Obama identified in his State of the Union speech last week as the foundation of the American economy has been shrinking for almost half a century. In the late 1960s, more than half of the households in the United States were squarely in the middle, … Continue reading K-12 Tax, Spending and Referendum Climate: Middle Class Shrinks Further as More Fall Out Instead of Climbing Up

Commentary and Results of the Madison School District’s Maintenance Referendum Survey (3% Response)

Madison School District Administration (PDF): MMSD received a total of 3,081 responses to the online survey. However, only Question #1 received the maximum number of responses; Questions #2-13 averaged around 2,200 respondents. Normally, a response rate is calculated by dividing the number of responses by the number of invitations to complete the survey. However, it … Continue reading Commentary and Results of the Madison School District’s Maintenance Referendum Survey (3% Response)

Trial Balloon on Raising Madison’s Property Taxes via another School Referendum? Homeowners compare communities…..

Molly Beck There’s been little movement since mid-March when Madison School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham proposed asking voters in November for $39.5 million in borrowing to upgrade facilities and address crowding. The proposed referendum’s annual impact on property taxes on a $200,000 Madison home could range from $32 to $44, according to the district. After … Continue reading Trial Balloon on Raising Madison’s Property Taxes via another School Referendum? Homeowners compare communities…..

Madison’s Property Taxes Per Capita 2nd Highest in WI; 25% of 2014-2015 $402,464,374 Budget Spent on Benefits

Tap the chart to view a larger version. A few slides from the School District’s fourth 2014-2015 budget presentation to the Board: I am surprised to see Physician’s Plus missing from the healthcare choices, which include: GHC, Unity or Dean. The slides mention that the “Budget Proposal Covers the First 5% of Health Insurance Premium … Continue reading Madison’s Property Taxes Per Capita 2nd Highest in WI; 25% of 2014-2015 $402,464,374 Budget Spent on Benefits

Madison Schools’ 2014-2015 $402,464,374 Budget Document (April, 2014 version)

The Madison School District (3MB PDF): Five Priority Areas (just like the “Big 10”) but who is counting! – page 6: – Common Core – Behavior Education Plan – Recruitment and hiring – New educator induction – Educator Effectiveness – Student, parent and staff surveys – Technology plan 2014-2015 “budget package” 3MB PDF features some … Continue reading Madison Schools’ 2014-2015 $402,464,374 Budget Document (April, 2014 version)

“Most MMSD schools are not over capacity. Six of the 32 elementary schools and one of the 12 middle schools had Third Friday enrollment numbers above their calculated capacities.”

Somewhat ironically, Madison has unused capacity in a number of schools, yet a successful Spring, 2015 referendum will spend another $41M+ to expand certain schools, including some of the least diverse such as Hamilton Middle School. Madison School District (PDF): Key Findings 1. Most MMSD schools are not over capacity. Six of the 32 elementary … Continue reading “Most MMSD schools are not over capacity. Six of the 32 elementary schools and one of the 12 middle schools had Third Friday enrollment numbers above their calculated capacities.”

Minding the nurture gap, Madison plans to expand least diverse schools

Economist: THE most important divide in America today is class, not race, and the place where it matters most is in the home. Conservatives have been banging on about family breakdown for decades. Now one of the nation’s most prominent liberal scholars has joined the chorus. Robert Putnam is a former dean of Harvard’s Kennedy … Continue reading Minding the nurture gap, Madison plans to expand least diverse schools

K-16 Governance: An Oxymoron? Wallace Hall Was Right About UT All Along

Jim Schutze: When Hall was early on the board, the university revealed to regents there were problems with a large private endowment used to provide off-the-books six-figure “forgivable loans” to certain faculty members, out of sight of the university’s formal compensation system. Hall wanted to know how big the forgivable loans were and who decided … Continue reading K-16 Governance: An Oxymoron? Wallace Hall Was Right About UT All Along

K – 12 tax and spending climate: ongoing property tax increases and the “lost middle class”

Jim Tankersley: One day in 1967, Bob Thompson sprayed foam on a hunk of metal in a cavernous factory south of Los Angeles. And then another day, not too long after, he sat at a long wood bar with a black-and-white television hanging over it, and he watched that hunk of metal land a man … Continue reading K – 12 tax and spending climate: ongoing property tax increases and the “lost middle class”

Considering Madison’s K-12 Enrollment Projections: 2009 and 2014; Dramatic Demographic Variation Persists

The Madison School District recently published a brief K-12 enrollment history (2010- PDF) along with a look at school capacities (PDF). Happily, a similar 2009 document is available here (PDF). This document includes 18 years of history, to 1990. Yet, the District and community have long tolerated wide variation in demographics across the schools. Tap … Continue reading Considering Madison’s K-12 Enrollment Projections: 2009 and 2014; Dramatic Demographic Variation Persists

Commentary on temporary madison school board memBer appoIntment, replacing Mary Burke

Logan Wroge: The temporarily six-person School Board is scheduled to decide Monday who will join the body for a nine-month stint. During that time, the board will hire a permanent superintendent and work on a potentially large November 2020 facilities referendum. Those interested in the appointment have until 4 p.m. Friday to apply for the … Continue reading Commentary on temporary madison school board memBer appoIntment, replacing Mary Burke

Spending, achievement, taxes and Madison’s school climate

Naegassi Tesfamichael: The School Board will also soon be the public face of a facilities referendum that MMSD is eyeing for the November 2020 election. The proposed facilities upgrades currently focus on East, La Follette, West and East high schools, which have an average age of 75 years old and have been identified as having … Continue reading Spending, achievement, taxes and Madison’s school climate

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: a planned Madison tax increase for bricks and mortar? Will space utilization and attendance boundaries be addressed first? 1% spent on maintenance

Logan Wroge: Wiese said the district has an annual maintenance budget of about $5.4 million for 4.5 million square feet of space. The high schools alone have deferred maintenance needs of $154 million, according to a study completed in 2017. In 2015, district voters overwhelmingly passed a $41 million facilities referendum targeting improvements in 16 … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: a planned Madison tax increase for bricks and mortar? Will space utilization and attendance boundaries be addressed first? 1% spent on maintenance

Why, for example, were board members approving staff contracts they’d never seen? Why was the district administrator’s salary higher than his contract stipulated?

Annysa Johnson: One way to make enemies in a small-town school district, it turns out, is to start sniffing around its finances. Christa Reinert was hardly welcomed when she joined the Mercer School Board in 2016. She’d run, at least partly, in protest after two girls basketball coaches — one a sitting School Board member … Continue reading Why, for example, were board members approving staff contracts they’d never seen? Why was the district administrator’s salary higher than his contract stipulated?

How Portland Is Driving Away New Residents of Color

Zahir Janmohamed: At a lecture in Portland last October, Isabel Wilkerson—the Pulitzer Prize-winning author who wrote about the great migration of Black Americans from the south to the north—said that when people leave a place, it’s often a referendum on the very place they leave. So then what does it mean when I, and other … Continue reading How Portland Is Driving Away New Residents of Color

On expanding Madison’s Least Diverse schools

It’s interesting to consider recent Madison School Board/Administration decisions in light of David Brooks’ 7/11/2017 column: Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances … Continue reading On expanding Madison’s Least Diverse schools

Wisconsin school districts’ debt soars after $1.35 billion in new borrowing

Annysa Johnson: Public school districts in Wisconsin are in the midst of a building boom, financed by a surge in new debt not seen since the 1990s, a new analysis by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance has found. According to the report, voters in districts across the state approved through referendums borrowing $1.35 billion last year, … Continue reading Wisconsin school districts’ debt soars after $1.35 billion in new borrowing

Madison School District Middle School Math Specialist Program

Madison School District Administration (PDF): Project Description: MMSD has provided funding to support coursework in the content and teaching knowledge of middle school teachers of math. Toward that goal, a partnership was formed back in 2010 between the District, the UW-Madison School of Education, the UW- Madison Department of Mathematics, and the University of Wisconsin … Continue reading Madison School District Middle School Math Specialist Program

Madison Middle School Academic Performance and Variation…

Madison School District Administration (PDF): “Inconsistency in grading and academic expectations between the middle schools may contribute to difficulty in transitioning to high school. The differences between the feeder middle schools are significant.” – MMSD Coursework Review, 2014 A recent tax increase referendum funded the expansion of Madison’s least diverse middle school: Hamilton. We’ve long … Continue reading Madison Middle School Academic Performance and Variation…

The Great Massachusetts Charter Schools Debate

Rachel Slade In November, Massachusetts voters will decide whether the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) can raise the cap on the number of charter schools allowed, or increase enrollment in existing charters in underperforming districts. If the referendum is approved, the city of Boston—which currently has 27 Commonwealth charter schools that operate independently … Continue reading The Great Massachusetts Charter Schools Debate

Let’s Compare: Boston, Long Beach & Madison

Enrollment Staff Budget Boston 56,650 9,125 $1,153,000,000 ($20,353/student) Long Beach 78,230 6,515 $1,133,478,905 ($14,489/student) Madison 25,231 4,081 ? $421M + “Construction” and ? (at least $17k/student) SIS: In 2013, Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said “What will be different, this time“? The Superintendent further cited Long Beach and Boston as beacons in her Rotary speech. However, … Continue reading Let’s Compare: Boston, Long Beach & Madison

“In addition, we see that very few schools actually achieved growth improvements of 5% or more, with changes in growth generally clustering around 0%.” Slide updates on Madison’s $500M+ Government School System

PDF slides from a recent Madison School District Quarterly Board retreat. Readers may wish to understand “MAP” or “Measure of Academic Progress” [duck duck go SIS 2012 Madison and Waunakee results] Using MAP for Strategic Framework Milestones and SIP Metrics Feedback from various stakeholders has led us to examine the use of MAP (Measures of … Continue reading “In addition, we see that very few schools actually achieved growth improvements of 5% or more, with changes in growth generally clustering around 0%.” Slide updates on Madison’s $500M+ Government School System

A rather remarkable chart from the Madison School District Admini$tration

Tap for a larger version (view the complete pdf slide presentation). I am astonished that the Madison School District’s administration published this chart. Why not publish the change in redistributed state (and federal) tax dollars over time as a percentage of total spending, along with academic outcomes? This chart displays Madison’s redistributed state tax dollar … Continue reading A rather remarkable chart from the Madison School District Admini$tration

Commentary On Wisconsin’s K-12 Tax and Spending Climate; Madison’s Above Average Spending

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes: Is it misguided, inefficient and wasteful to compel school districts to resort to referenda for authority to meet the rising costs of school operations? Not everyone thinks so. For example, Republican Jeremy Thiesfeldt, chair of the Assembly Committee on Education, does not see a problem with government by referendum. … Continue reading Commentary On Wisconsin’s K-12 Tax and Spending Climate; Madison’s Above Average Spending

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Ongoing Spending And Property Tax Growth….. Madison Plans Another 4.5% increase

Molly Beck: In April, 76 percent of the referendums to exceed revenue limits passed. That compares to a typical rate of about 50 percent in years prior. This represents a changing perception of the state’s support of public schools, said Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. “This reflects a shift in public opinion … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Ongoing Spending And Property Tax Growth….. Madison Plans Another 4.5% increase

Commentary on Madison Schools’ Governance, Priorities & Spending

David Blaska Voters just approved a $41 million spending referendum. Now the Madison Metro School District says it needs to cut $10.8 million to cover a deficit. This is after rewarding its unionized teachers and support staff with a 2.5% pay increase in the budget approved late last year. Who is running this store? Hint: … Continue reading Commentary on Madison Schools’ Governance, Priorities & Spending

Dutch student protests ignite movement against management of universities

Jonathan Grey: On 24 February 2015, mounted police, live television crews, protestors and crowds of onlookers surrounded a building called the Bungehuis, a six storey art deco style construction that currently houses the University of Amsterdam’s humanities faculty. The building is scheduled to be converted into a luxury hotel and spa complex as part of … Continue reading Dutch student protests ignite movement against management of universities

Commentary on tension in the Madison Schools over “One Size Fits All” vs. “Increased Rigor”

Maggie Ginsberg interviews Brandi Grayson: Can you give an example of what you’ve described as “intent versus impact?” The Behavior Education Plan that the [Madison Metropolitan] school district came up with. The impact is effed up, in so many words, and that’s because the voices that are most affected weren’t considered. It’s like standing outside … Continue reading Commentary on tension in the Madison Schools over “One Size Fits All” vs. “Increased Rigor”

Madison’s Lengthy K-12 Challenges Become Election Grist; Spends 22% more per student than Milwaukee

Madison 2005 (reflecting 1998): When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As … Continue reading Madison’s Lengthy K-12 Challenges Become Election Grist; Spends 22% more per student than Milwaukee

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison/Dane County Property Taxes Highest in Wisconsin, 61st in USA

Nick Heynen: Using data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the report’s authors examined residential property taxes in every U.S. county from 2007 to 2011, looking at how much homeowners were paying on average and how that average compared to average home sale prices over the same time period. The data contained some interesting, … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison/Dane County Property Taxes Highest in Wisconsin, 61st in USA

GOP likes (and will keep) school spending caps

Some people believe that the Wisconsin Legislature just doesn’t understand how revenue caps affect Wisconsin schools. I’m sorry to say, legislators know very well how caps control spending and they’re happy about it. “In GOP Plays Politics With Property Taxes,” The Capital Times’ Matt Pommer wrote in December 2004: Republicans sought to recapture the anti-tax … Continue reading GOP likes (and will keep) school spending caps