Talkin’ Referendum

Tav Falco and the Unapproachable Panther Burns – “Money Talks” (click to listen or download)

On July 28th the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education will begin discussing a possible operating referendum. This is what Board President Arlene Silveira had to say on The Daily Page:

You will start to hear talk of a referendum in November as there is a community group starting to form in support of this action. At this point in time, the Board has not had any discussions on a future referendum. We will have a meeting on July 28 to start the discussion on this topic. The budget gap for the 09/10 school year is projected to be approximately $9.2M. Dan Nerad has our business office reviewing numbers in preparation for our discussion. IF, after our discussions and public hearing, we vote to go to referendum in November, the question(s) are due to the clerk’s office in early September. There will be an opportunity for public input. There is quite a bit of discussion that will take place in a short period of time. If you have any questions/comments, please let me know.

Arlene Silveira Madison Board of Ed

There is also a new note on the front page of the Communities and Schools Together (CAST) site:

At their July 28, 2008 meeting the Board of Education will begin discussions of a possible referendum. If they go forward, a public hearing will be scheduled followed by deliberations on the details of the referendum. The Board needs to hear from us, they need to know a referendum would have support from the community and be aware of what their constituents think is important. Attend a meeting or contact the Board at

We need a referendum. The school finance system in Wisconsin is creates annual budget gaps of about 2.3% between the revenue that districts are allowed to collect and what it costs to continue the same level and quality of education. Each year districts must cut programs and services. The only alternative is to hold a referendum and ask the tax-payers for the authority to collect more revenue. Without a referendum there will be about $9.2 million in cuts in the 2009-10 MMSD budget .

In 15 years under this system, Madison schools have eliminated over 600 positions (including about 25 administrators), cut programs and services, and found more efficient ways of doing things. Any further cuts will affect what we value most about our schools. Our children, our schools and our community deserve better.

If a referendum is placed on the ballot, the timeline will likely be short. Communities and Schoools Together — along with other interested groups and individuals — has begun initial pre-campaign organizing. We will need help with big and small things. To get involved, please contact us at

I want to emphasize that this may happen fairly quickly. That means that if there are things you would like to see funded (or not funded) by a referendum, the time to let the Board know that is short. It also means that if you want to volunteer to help pass a referendum it would be good to contact CAST as soon as possible.

Thomas J. Mertz

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Filed under "education finance", AMPS, Budget, education, Elections, finance, Local News, Referenda, referendum, School Finance, Take Action, Uncategorized

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