The Madison Metropolitan School District provides a variety of programs and services through an administrative department called Madison School and Community Recreation. The State Legislature provided statutory authority for local school boards to establish a community service fund and removed it from revenue limit control starting in the 2000-01 school year. This Community Service Fund, commonly referred to as Fund 80, is used to account for activities such as adult education, community recreation programs, non-special education preschool, day care services and other programs which are not elementary and secondary educational programs but have the primary function of serving the community. The district adopts a separate tax levy for the fund. The State Department of Public Instruction provides no oversight of local school program inclusions in Fund 80, nor provides for any state level audit or accountability for tax levies and other sources of revenue.
Parents, taxpayers, private non-profit program and service providers and various community groups, such as our Active Citizens for Education, have been asking questions and requesting specific information from school district officials about the decision-making, budgeting/accounting, administration and accountability of Fund 80 for several months. Responses from the district have been sporadic, piecemeal and confusing at best. Reviews of the information and budget reveal “accounting ploys” and a consistent lack of transparency as to line item expenses attributable to specific programs and services. The Board of Education has established no policies regarding program operations and evaluation. The board has routinely given ‘carte blanche’ approval to the administration’s budget proposals and tax levy requirements. The board has not established criteria for determinations as to whether a program or service should be included in the regular budget or in Fund 80. The budget for Fund 80 has increased 216% in five years from $3.8 million to $8.2 million. The percent of the Fund 80 budget supported by the separate tax levy outside the state mandated revenue cap has grown from 61% in 2001-02 to 93 percent in 2004-05. Please refer to the ACE ‘White Paper’ and charts entitled “Community Service Fund (Fund 80)”
Active Citizens for Education, therefore, calls upon the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education (BOE) to initiate an outside, independent audit of the Community Service Fund (80). This audit should be conducted with no ‘strings’ attached and a report, with recommendations, made to the Board of Education and the community not later than January 3, 2005. The audit should include, but not limited to:
The Board of Education and the community deserves and has the right to know the important information and recommendations provided by such an audit. The audit information will help everyone conduct more informed discussions and make more enlightened decisions about the stewardship and accountability of priority programs and services in affordable and effective results-oriented approaches.
The goals of this audit request are to
Active Citizens for Education is pleased to announce a radio campaign which will begin inform the public about Fund 80, raise awareness of the impact of recent district actions regarding after school care programs and urging the community to contact board members about their concerns.
The address for the MMSD web site is www.madison.k12.wi.us
Contact: ACE, Don Severson, President at P.O. 5303, Madison, WI 53705-0303
Web Site: www.activecitizensforeducation.org