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June 13, 2006

School Board OK's 23.5M November Referendum: Three Requests in One Question

Sandy Cullen:

he Madison School Board will put one $23.5 million referendum question to voters in the Nov. 7 general election.
If approved, the referendum would provide $17.7 million for a new elementary school on the Far West Side, $2.7 million for an addition at Leopold Elementary, and $3.1 million to refinance debt.

It also would free up $876,739 in the portion of next year's operating budget that is subject to state revenue limits. Board members could use that money to restore some of the spending cuts in the $332 million budget they recently approved, which eliminated the equivalent of about 86 full-time positions to help close a $6.9 million gap between what it would cost to continue the same programs and services next year and what the district can raise in taxes under revenue limits.

Susan Troller has more:
The board voted unanimously to hold the referendum in November, rather than placing in on the ballot during the fall primary in September. The later date, board members said, provides more time to organize an educational effort on why the projects are necessary.

"We'll see what happens," said board member Ruth Robarts, the lone dissenting voice on the decision to bundle all three projects together in a single question to voters in the general election. Robarts, who preferred asking the three questions separately, said she was concerned that voters who did not like one project might be likely to vote against all three.

What's the outlook for a successful referenda? I think, as I wrote on May 4, 2006 that it is still hard to say:

Televising all board meetings and a more active district website may or may not help, depending of course, on what's being written or mentioned.

Jason Shephard's seminal piece on the future of Madison's public schools will resonate for some time.

Lots of details on the May, 2005 referenda, including the failed Leopold question can be found here.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at June 13, 2006 6:12 AM
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