What is the anticipated cost of equipping the Leopold addition and the elementary school at Linden Park? Are those projected costs included in the referendum authorization or not?
What is the anticipated cost of operating the Leopold addition and the elementary school at Linden Park? How will those costs be appropriated/budgeted (and in what years?) given that the Board expects to have to cut $6-8 million per year?
What are the “shared revenue” total costs for each of three parts of the referendum question? Are these costs included in the $29.20 estimated cost for a median assessed home-owner? Please provide the ‘working papers’ or calculations arriving at these costs. How can a home-owner figure the annual cost of this referendum for the assessed value of their home?
What information about the Ridgewood complex and projected enrollment was used to calculate the need for the Leopold addition?
Construction has already begun for the Leopold addition without voter/taxpayer approval. What is the current impact on the operations budget? What would be the future impact on the operations budget if the referendum fails?
What is the current rate of interest paid by the District for the previous additions to the three elementary schools and now for the new addition to Leopold? What is the anticipated rate of interest and fees for refinancing these debts if the referendum is approved?
What changes occur in the calculations of residential build-out and estimated numbers of children in the next few years given the accelerating decline in permits and new home starts and the increasing costs of interest, building materials and land?
How is the planning for the Leopold addition and the new elementary school integrated with a long-range plan for entire District? What are the consequences of flat/stable enrollment figures over the last several years and that from 2005 to 2006 school years five elementary schools on the west side are down in enrollment and seven have had only slight increases?
What priorities will be addressed and what are the plans for use of the nearly $800,000 under the revenue cap in the operations budget that would become available if the referendum is approved?
Referendum Facts, Background & Additional Questions:
The Madison Metropolitan School Board of Education has proposed a referendum for district voters to consider on November 7, 2006.
The referendum is a single question with three parts:
Build a new 650-student elementary school in Linden Park on the far west side of Madison at a cost of $17.7 million.
Move previously committed financing of $2.76 million for Leopold elementary school from underneath the revenue cap.
Move financing for previous school additions and land development in the amount of $3.1 million from beneath the revenue cap.
Thus, if approved, the referendum will create $17.7 million of new debt outside the revenue cap, and refinance and move $5.86 million of present debt outside the revenue cap (total of $23.5 million). The School Board and District are telling the public that these actions will cost the owner of an average assessed home of $239,400, about $29.20 per year.
But the Board has refused to tell the public of the true total cost to the taxpayers, and fact that the Board is creating a ‘blank check’ spending entitlement for the Board.
State law will require Madison taxpayers to pay a nearly 60% premium in shared revenues to the State for increasing for increasing local spending authority above the revenue cap by referendum. Thus, if the referendum is approved, Madison taxpayers will have to pay the State over $14 million, making a total of $37.6 million above the revenue cap, all to be borne by Madison taxpayers over the years. In this way, Madison taxpayers will actually be paying costs of other school districts in the state.
Under present District budgeting, the debt service for the $5.86 million existing debt (numbers 2 and 3 of the referendum) is under the revenue cap. By moving this debt from beneath the revenue cap the Board will free up about $800,000 of spending authority. When asked for an accounting of how this new-found money will be spent, they have stated they don’t know.
Consider these issues before voting:
The current revenue caps and levels of state aids to local schools and the property tax bases for local funding will not change in the foreseeable future
The local Board of Education will be required to more effectively and efficiently manage its financial affairs with less money
The local Board of Education will be required to make changes in its delivery systems of curriculum and instruction and student services to attain better achievement results
The local Board of Education will be required to establish a realignment of educational and operational priorities and how those priorities can be met with the existing funding base
The Board of Education cannot financially and educationally manage to take on more debt and operational expenses, as a result of this referendum, with declining ability to pay for these burdens.
Part 1–Regarding the new elementary school proposal:
What will be the operational costs of this school? (has not been disclosed)
How will the operational costs of the school be paid for and what will be the impact on the operational budget when the Board has stated it will have to cut up to about $8 million each year for the next several years? (no planning has been done)
Student enrollment has remained stable for the last several years. Enrollment from 2005 to 2006 declined (-97) in five west side elementary schools and increased in seven (+185)
The impact on reducing existing elementary school building capacities the past several years has been largely due to Board policies regarding class size, racial and low-income student ratios, SAGE reading programs and time of transporting students to and from school
The Board contracted this past spring for architectural and engineering design services for this school at a cost of approximately $90,000
The Board has relied on City of Madison projections for the build-out of 13,000 homes on the far west side in the next 20 years. No consideration has been given to how those numbers are projected to sequentially play out over the years
The decline in home building in Dane County this year has accelerated in September, remaining the weakest this century, less than half of September 2005 (195 down to 73) and at least 68 below every September back to 1999. Year-to-date through September there were 1116 permits in Dane County, 711 below a year ago and at least 332 below every year back to 1999.
Building and land costs as well as interest rates continue to increase creating the significant decline in new residential starts
Approval of the referendum will tax Madison property owners for over $10 million to be given to the state in shared revenues for poorer school districts as no financial benefit to the Madison school district
Part 2–Regarding the addition to the Leopold Elementary School proposal:
Construction for this addition already began in June of this year
Voters defeated a referendum in May 2005 to build an additional complete elementary school on the same property as the existing Leopold Elementary school. The Board is forcing through this addition without prior voter approval and asking taxpayers to approve the expenditure by referendum after the fact
The Board of Education is currently making debt service and principle payments from the general operations budget under the revenue cap
Approval of the referendum would remove approximately $200,000 per year for 16 years from under the revenue cap and provide that amount for the Board to spend without any plan and accountability to educational priorities and needs
Budget cuts for programs, services and various staff were made to the 2006-2007 operations budget partially due to the impact constructing this addition now
The Board made the decision to move ahead not knowing what the impact of redevelopment to the Ridgewood Apartment complex will have on enrollment at Leopold
The addition is underway without a comprehensive long-range plan for dealing with potential enrollment growth in the Fitchburg area of the District coupled with potential growth on the west side of Madison an impacts on existing elementary buildings and boundaries
Approval of the referendum will tax Madison property owners for over $1.65 million to be given to the state in shared revenues for poorer school districts as no financial benefit to the Madison school district
Part 3—Regarding the proposal for refinancing of existing building and land debt:
At the time the Board approved this part for the referendum, no comparative analysis had been conducted of the current debt service cost, length and amount of payments with the same data if approved with the referendum, so they had no idea whether this decision was financially sound or not
Approval of the referendum would remove approximately $516,000 per year for 6 years from under the revenue cap and provide that amount for the Board to spend without any plan and accountability to educational priorities and needs
The Board is forcing through this refinance provision asking taxpayers to approve the expenditures for prior construction and land acquisition by referendum after the fact
Approval of the referendum will tax Madison property owners for over $1.86 million to be given to the state in shared revenues for poorer school districts as no financial benefit to the Madison school district
Taxpayers can view additional questions, information and supporting data by connecting with the following Internet sites: