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Madison school board works to draft budget and waits for state decision on public school funding

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The board is accepting feedback on the proposed budget until the end of May.

MADISON (WKOW) -- The Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education is working to put together a budget for the 2023-2024 school year. But as board members try to figure out how much the district can spend - they don't know how much money MMSD will have. 

State lawmakers haven't yet finalized the state budget, including public school funding. Gov. Tony Evers has put forward proposals that would inject cash into the school system, but Republicans have said they won't rubber stamp Evers' agenda. 

According to a new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum, MMSD faces budget challenges right now because of increasing costs, declining enrollment and state aid levels that aren't keeping pace with inflation. 

"Districts across the state are really struggling to keep pace with the state of inflation to fully staff schools and give teachers the money they deserve," school board member Savion Castro said. 

The draft MMSD budget proposed a 3.5% base pay raise for all staff. But teachers say that's not enough for them to keep living in an expensive city like Madison. 

"We've heard countless staff say their rent's going up $200 a month. We know groceries, gas, everything has gone up here in Dane County," said Andrea Missureli, the vice president for Madison Teachers Inc. "Our contracts are due on June 15, but I know a lot of staff are waiting to see what the board does and where they lead us for the future."

Missureli and other teachers are pushing for an 8% wage increase. 

But Castro said the board can't approve higher pay if there's not more money. He said if it doesn't come from the state, the district could need to put another operating referendum on the ballot.

"We may be in a position where we need to ask our taxpayers to help fund our educational priorities for the Madison community," he said. 

Board members have until Friday to submit amendments to the budget. District staff will figure out the cost of each of those proposals, and the board will vote on the preliminary budget on June 26. The final budget approval vote will come in October. 

MMSD is collecting feedback on the budget until the end of May. You can share your thoughts here