Statement on Referendum from CAST

We have a referendum!

Community and Schools Together (CAST) has been working to educate the public on the need to change the state finance system and support  referendums that preserve and expand the good our schools do. We are eager to continue this work and help pass the referendum the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education approved on Monday, August 25, 2008.

“The support and interest from everyone has been great,” said Franklin and Wright parent and CAST member Thomas J. Mertz. “We’ve got a strong organization, lots of enthusiasm, and we’re ready to do everything we can to pass this referendum and move our schools beyond the painful annual cuts. Our community values education. It’s a good referendum and we are confident the community will support it.”

Community and Schools Together (CAST) strongly supports the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education’s decision to place a three-year recurring referendum on the November 4, 2008 ballot. This is the best way for the district to address the legislated structural deficit we will face over the next few years.

This responsible approach provides time for the MMSD and the community to engage in the strategic planning that will take our already excellent schools to the next echelon. It will also establish a solid foundation for setting future budgets, justifying future referendums, and working for state finance reform. Such a process could be easily derailed if the community and district become distracted by discussion of major reductions in programs and services. At little cost to taxpayers, the Board’s action has given our community an opportunity to enter the Superintendent Nerad era in a way that will allow us to make good use of his talents and contributions.

“If we want to look at the big picture and plan for the future, we need the certainty that a recurring referendum provides,” stressed Hamilton Middle School parent and CAST activist Jerry Eykholt.

Since 1993 the district has reduced programs and services by over $60 million, even as other costs have continued to rise. The proposed referendum will provide basic operating funds to maintain the existing programs and services in Madison’s schools.  Over the last fifteen years more than $60 million of programs and services have been cut.  Without a referendum the cuts will continue at ever higher levels.

“Without the referendum, the preliminary areas identified by Superintendent Nerad and his staff for further cuts would create unwarranted stresses on our students, making it much harder to provide the education they deserve,” said Deb Gilbert, a CAST member and parent of two children at Leopold.

CAST is confident that the board and administration understand this referendum simply provides the authority to exceed revenue limits and, with the community, will continue to seek additional efficiencies and limit levy amounts to that needed to ensure a sound education for Madison’s children.

“I like the partnership aspects,” said CAST Treasurer and Falk parent Jackie Woodruff. “They clearly understand that we all need to work together to make the best use of the resources the community provides.”

A three-year referendum is a responsible way to allow the community and district to engage in a strong partnership to ensure the future success of Madison schools and students while minimizing the impact on children and tax payers.

CAST is proud of the quality of Madison’s schools and what they have achieved, even as resources have been cut and the needs of our population have grown through rapidly changing demographics-evidence of the dedication and creativity of the MMSD staff and the Madison community.   Quality public education is essential to maintaining the economic health and quality of life of our community.

“We need to keep our schools strong-they are at the heart of our neighborhoods and what makes Madison such a great place to raise children” said Jill Jacklitz an activist with CAST and parent at Marquette and Lapham.

CAST is a grassroots organization of parents, educators, and community members that is dedicated to educating the citizens of Madison about school funding referenda in the Madison Metropolitan School District.

If you believe quality public schools for all is an integral part of our democracy, join us in working to assure our schools have adequate resources. We look forward to sharing a positive message about the future of the MMSD. Visit www.madisoncast.org for more information or contact:Community and Schools Together, madisoncast@sbcglobal.net.

Since I am active with CAST and quoted in the statement, now would be a good time to clarify some things.

CAST is a coalition of people dedicated to working for the passage of school referenda and educating on state school finance reform.  Decisions are made collectively.  Individuals involved differ on many matters related to school issues, even those related to referenda and school finance reform.  As a group, we do and say what the group thinks best.

I also blog here and write about what I — as an individual  —  think is best.  What I write or say, here or elsewhere, as an individual should in no way be considered to reflect the beliefs of CAST as an organization.  Anything from CAST will be clearly labeled as such.  Anything else is just me on my soapbox.

This should be obvious, but I think it needed saying.

Thomas J. Mertz

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

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