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September 3, 2009

Revised Madison school budget boosts tax increase

Gayle Worland:

The owner of a $250,000 Madison home would pay $82.50 more in school property taxes this year under a proposal by city schools superintendent Dan Nerad that seeks to partially cover a projected $9.2 million cut in general state aids to the district.

That's $80 more than estimated under a preliminary 2009-10 district budget approved by the school board in May, when the board expected state cuts to be less severe.

The tax increase would cover only a portion of the state cut. School officials said the remaining gap would be bridged through cost-saving measures that do not directly affect students.

"Am I comfortable or happy?" with the district's proposal, said Arlene Silveira, school board president. "No. But the whole (budget) situation doesn't make me comfortable or happy. I appreciate that there are ways that we can deal with this gap without really cutting programs and without putting too much of a burden back on our community."

The Madison district's $350 million budget for the current school year won't be final until the school board votes on it in late October. Officials are awaiting final student counts in late September, which figure into the amount of aid each district receives from the state.
"In terms of where we are in this economy and where we are in public education, you need to be realistic," said [Erik] Kass. "You need to be conservative, and you need to realize there are things that are going to pop up during the year. But I think you also need to be cognizant of the fact that you're being a steward of public resources, and you need to utilize those resources to provide a service that the public is giving you the money to provide."

Posted by Jim Zellmer at September 3, 2009 8:51 PM
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