Update: The district lists, presentation and impact statements are up here.
Channel 3000 has an initial and likely misleading report up on the possible cuts that the Madison Metropolitan School District will be considering over the next months. There is a Press Conference scheduled today for 2:30 and the documents related to budget matters will be posted here on the district website at about that time (I’ll be updating this post also). MMSD-TV has has promised updates on Facebook throughout the process.
The Channel 3000 headline — “Sources: Madison School District Plans Cuts, Close Lindbergh School” — is certainly misleading. At this point, the district is not “planning” anything. The Board of Education asked the administration for lists of possible cuts and savings totaling about $30 million. The Board will now consider those options in relation to the property tax increases required to maintain the programs.
The story does get the basic idea right. Unlike in past years the big problem isn’t the revenue authority to fully fund education (the 2008 referendum and some savings mostly took care of that for this year). The big problem is that cuts in state aid as applied via the broken school finance system means that fully funding education would require unprecedented property tax increases. So, the Board, will seek to strike a balance.
The TV station is also reporting that possible cuts will be presented in four tiers; from undesirable to really, really, really undesirable (OK, I made up the labels, once the lists are out, maybe we should have a naming contest). If accurate, one of the “lower” tiers (really, really undesirable or really, really, really undesirable? — I’d call these the higher tiers) includes school closings and consolidations :
One of the cuts in the lowest tiers includes a consolidation plan that would save the school district nearly $1.3 million, that would shift Blackhawk Middle School students to O’Keefe and Sherman middle schools, then close Lakeview, Mendota and Lindbergh elementary schools, and move those students into the building with Gompers Elementary.
The report also states that “no teacher layoffs” are in the options. Unless the retirement numbers are huge, I find this difficult to believe.
Update: I just heard that Elementary School Class Size increases are among the tier four (or least recommended) cuts (I was misinformed, there are no Elementary School Class Size increases in the options, Middle and High School in tier four).
More as things are released.
Thomas J. Mertz