MMSD board hashes out budget options - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

MMSD board hashes out budget options

MADISON (WKOW) -- The district's $30 million budget gap is going nowhere fast, and that's just how the school board wants it, at least for now.

At a special meeting Monday night, neither board members nor district administrators said they were ready to put anything on the chopping block.

"No, let me finish," said MMSD board vice president Lucy Mathiak. "I'm struggling with how we got the $30 million (mark)."

Administrators responded saying it is a complex issue. One that involves state funding, tax levies and unexpected expenses.

"What we thought our charge was, was to identify a list of items that would add from a zero tax increase," Superintendent Dan Nerad told the board.

As for the list of 200 possible cuts, released by the district last week, only a handful were discussed Monday evening. The biggie -- staff reductions. One plan would eliminate 250 positions for the next school year.

"Let's talk about the people who are hanging by their fingernails," said board member Marjorie Passman.

Another hot-button issue -- possible school closings. Nerad said, as of now, all schools are preparing as if they will reopen in the fall.

As for narrowing down a long list of options, the board agreed its final decision can't just be about getting by this one year.

"I hope we don't do things this year that will just push a decision off until next year," board member Ed Hughes concluded.

The public did not have a chance to speak at the meeting. However, next Monday (March 22) a public hearing is scheduled at 6 p.m. at the Villager Mall off of Park Street.

A vote on the final budget plan will come the first week in May.

One sidenote, the board did vote on another matter at its special meeting. Given the financial crisis, members unanimously agreed to scrap a new communications plan for the district. More than $40,000 was budgeted for that purpose.

Online reporting by Brock Bergey



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