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February 11, 2010

Madison Public Schools Face Tax & Spending Challenges: What is the budget?

Gayle Worland, via a kind reader's email:

The Madison School District is facing a $30 million budget hole for 2010-11, a dilemma that could force school board members this spring to order massive cuts in programs, dramatically raise property taxes, or impose a combination of both.

District officials will unveil a list of possible cuts -- which could include layoffs -- next month, with public hearings to follow.

"This is a big number," School Board President Arlene Silveira said. "So we have to look at how we do business, we have to look at efficiencies, we have to look at our overall budget, and we are going to have to make hard decisions. We are in a horrible situation right now, and we do have to look at all options."

Even with the maximum hike in school property taxes -- $28.6 million, or a jump of $312.50 for the owner of a $250,000 Madison home -- the district would have to close a $1.2 million budget gap, thanks in part to a 15 percent drop in state aid it had to swallow in 2009-10 and expects again for 2010-11.

The district, with a current budget of about $360 million, expects to receive $43.7 million from the state for 2010-11, which would be the lowest sum in 13 years, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, and down from a high of $60.7 million in 2008-09. The district is receiving $51.5 million from the state for the current school year.

I'm not sure where the $360 million number came from. Board member Ed Hughes mentioned a $432,764,707 2010-2011 budget number. The 2009-2010 budget, according to a an October, 2009 District document was $418,415,780. The last "Citizen's budget" number was $339,685,844 in 2007-2008 and $333,101,865 in 2006-2007.

The budget numbers remind me of current Madison School Board member Ed Hughes' very useful 2005 quote:

This points up one of the frustrating aspects of trying to follow school issues in Madison: the recurring feeling that a quoted speaker - and it can be someone from the administration, or MTI, or the occasional school board member - believes that the audience for an assertion is composed entirely of idiots.
Related: Madison School District & Madison Teachers Union Reach Tentative Agreement: 3.93% Increase Year 1, 3.99% Year 2; Base Rate $33,242 Year 1, $33,575 Year 2: Requires 50% MTI 4K Members and will "Review the content and frequency of report cards" and "Budget comments in a vacuum?"

Posted by Jim Zellmer at February 11, 2010 1:27 PM
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