Fast MMSD Budget Hearing Report

Just a quick report, more later.

The big news is that by two 7-0 votes the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education agreed to raise taxes by at least  $11.7 Million ($4 Million from referendum and $7.7 from new cap room) and took most of Tier 4 (7-0 vote) and on a motion by Marj Passman some items from Tier 3 off the table (no time for links tonight, all documents are linked off of the district pages).  The Tier 3 items were 12, 35, 138, 140, 142, 146, covering Positive Behavior Support, Social Workers, Guidance Counselors, Nurses, Middle School Learning Coordinators and Psychologists.    The vote here was 5-2 with Lucy Mathiak and I believe Johnny Winston Jr Corrected Maya Cole voting no.

Passman’s motion came after a broader motion from Ed Hughes  to take many other items out of consideration (8, 12, 17, 35, 137, 138, 140, 142, 146, 149, 174, 175, 198, and maybe 44, 45 , 46– have to double check, it may be the 140s are wrong and the 40s are right Corrected:  8, 12, 17, 35, 44, 45, 46, 137, 138, 140, 142, 146, 149, 174, 175, 198) failed by a 3-3 vote with Winston abstaining. and Beth Moss, Marj Passman voting with Hughes.  The logic that helped Passman’s motion carry was that the Tier 3 cuts she identified paralleled Tier 4 cuts in those areas.  By Superintendent Nerad’s own admission the numbers in and even the inclusion in each Tier was a product of wanting the dollar amounts to come out neat and not any educational or policy thinking.

The one item not removed from Tier four was #9, Elementary Instructional Resource Teachers.  Much confusion around this in the budget and  the Reorganization. The one thing I know is that IRTs or coaches are considered n effective and efficient use of resources in all the research I’ve read.  I’m confused too.

I understand why Board President Silveira made the spending motions based on the amounts of the referendum and the new cap room, but the truth is authority is authority, is authority and it could just as well have been a round $10 million r $20 million.

The bulk of the night was public testimony.  Packed room, overflow crowd, strong support for schools and many reminders about the good they do, how.  Much of the testimony was about the Lincoln Open Classroom and some of the most moving about the Omega School.  Many also came to say “raise my taxes” and share their thoughts about why investments in education are so important. There was some anger, much rightly directed at state officials with Mark Pocan and Mark Miller called out by name multiple times.  Others were angry that in this year, after 17 years of cuts,  when the Board has the authority to almost fully fund education, they are hesitating.  Much more on this all later.

Stand up for schools!

Thomas J. Mertz

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

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