Notes on planned Madison tax & $pending increase 2024 Referendum(s)

Abbey Machtig:

Past spending decisions combined with current revenue estimates leave the district with an estimated $40 million shortfall, Assistant Superintendent of Financial Services Bob Soldner told the Wisconsin State Journal.

District could renovate, build new schools

The district appears to be leaning toward building several new schools with potential referendum dollars rather than renovating existing buildings.

Leadership says many aging school buildings require substantial aesthetic, electrical and mechanical changes the district can’t afford without a referendum. The money would also go toward making schools more energy efficient and accessible.

“Under revenue limits, you just don’t have any other options on the facilities,” Soldner said Monday. “If you have a need, you have to seek voter approval.”

District administration is recommending that Sennett Middle School and Cherokee Heights Middle School be replaced with new buildings. The same goes for several combined schools that share the same location: Shabazz City High and Sherman Middle; Black Hawk Middle and Gompers Elementary; Toki Middle and Orchard Ridge Elementary.

That new construction would cost an estimated $443 million.


“city would spend about $431.4 million but raise only about $409.4 million in revenue”:

Of the $26 million in new spending expected for next year, most of it — $14.5 million — will go toward staff salaries and benefits. Last year, the city raised pay by 3% for unionized employees like police and fire department staff. General city employees got a 6% raise.

Of the $14.5 million for staff, $2.97 million will cover rising health insurance costs alone.

On the revenue side, the $4 million in new cash the city will bring in next year comes from increasing the property tax levy to the extent allowed without a referendum, which would generate about $12.6 million. Another $6 million will come from interest earnings and $1 million from increased ambulance fees.

Those increases are offset by one-time funding the city used to balance its 2024 budget, which came from the city’s rainy day fund, federal stimulus support and tax incremental financing money.

As the city’s budget options come into sharper focus, it remains unclear how, if at all, the city will use $16 million added to the rainy day fund thanks to higher-than-expected income from the city’s investments.


Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?