MADISON (WKOW) -- Property taxes would increase more than $100 on the average home under the Madison Metropolitan School District's preliminary budget for the 2012-2013 school year.
The $379 million plan was released Friday by Superintendent Dan Nerad.
Nerad says the budget allows the district to maintain programs, fill its current budget gap and reserves money for the plan to bridge the achievement gap, which is still in development.
The school board will discuss the budget recommendations at a meeting on Monday, April 16. Approval of the preliminary budget is scheduled for June.
Below is the memo released by Nerad:
We live in challenging times for public education. Our resources are declining. The status of our employees is questioned. And the need in our community to educate our children well is greater than ever.
In the face of these challenges, we have much work to do. We must make sure every student has the opportunity to advance their learning, and we must move forward with bold solutions to solve our achievement gaps. We must also build strong partnerships with our community. This preliminary budget recommendation makes strategic choices to fill our budget gap and lays the strong foundation for that important work.
By making strategic, efficient choices this budget recommendation fills the $12.4 million gap and maintains our current programs. Those choices include:
Because of these strategic choices, our budget recommendations maintain all current programs and lay a strong foundation that includes:
Because of careful budgeting, we have also built a strong financial foundation for our district. We have maintained our Aaa bond rating, the highest possible assessment of our financial footing. And in this challenging economic climate, we have added nearly $20 million to our fund balance over the last three years.
In the challenging climate we face, this budget increases spending by $6.3 million or 1.7%. It would increase our levy by 4% or $108 on the average home.
We live in a time in public education when we are mainly able to talk about making ends meet each year. In the last 15 years, our free and reduced lunch count has doubled, with more than half of our students now eligible. In the same time, this district has made cuts and created efficiencies totaling $70 million. Just as need was increasing, our resources have been decreasing.
I believe we need to invest more in our children especially for disparate achievement to be solved, but I also believe we need to balance the needs of our community and find the ways we can leverage our resources for the best results.
That is why this preliminary budget also includes a placeholder for our achievement gap plan. After we analyze the community input we've received from hundreds of participants over the past two months, we will revise and refine that plan and present a new version in May. I know that we as a district must present a plan that is feasible, mindful of resources and can leverage those resources for results now. I will ask the Board of Education to consider that plan and revise the preliminary budget through a budget amendment.
As we have previously discussed, in order to qualify for an additional $1.3 million of categorical aid from the state, our levy carryover cannot increase in this budget. That levy carryover is currently $10.5 million. This year, we are provided an additional $4 million of levy authority for the second year of four-year-old kindergarten. Because of that, we are recommending using that authority to fund the program, rather than funding it out of fund equity, as was originally approved by the Board. By doing so, we will qualify for the additional $1.3 million of categorical aid.
In addition, using $4 million of levy authority for four-year-old kindergarten would free up $4 million in fund equity that the Board could use to fund part of the achievement gap plan without increasing the levy beyond the 4% included in these recommendations.
Public education provides every child the opportunity to fulfill their maximum potential. It empowers our students to be successful in their lives. Even in the challenging environment we face, we must live up to that promise. Together with our community, our staff and our families, I know that we can.
Investing in the Work Ahead
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