Groups Mobilize for and Against School Referenda

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

Groups on both sides of the Madison School District's referenda questions have researched the issues and mobilized their supporters. Now they're working on getting people to the polls later this month.

"Our key thing is getting out the vote," former alder Dorothy Borchardt says.
Borchardt wants people to turn out May 24.

"I take it if someone doesn't come out to vote that they're ok with this, but I know that's not happening," she says.

Borchardt says she knows not everybody can afford to pay what the Madison school district says it needs.

Borchardt joined Rick Berg, a former school board member, in announcing a campaign against the district's three referenda questions.

They call it "Vote No for Change."

"We continue to spend $13, 000 per pupil; that's about 25 percent over statewide average; no one can really say taxpayers in the district haven't been generous in support of public schools," Berg says.

They join another local group, "Get Real," in its opposition.

"It's a question of making sure people have access to truth and to facts," school board president Carol Carstensen says.

That is perhaps one area where school board president Carol Carstensen and referenda opponents agree, but they disagree on what those budget facts mean.

"We want them to have the best, but we don't believe throwing more money is necessarily the best way to do it," Borchardt says.

"It's important to remember, our increased costs go for kids by placing qualified staff in the classroom and in the school," Carstensen says.

But Vote No for change and Get Real have their opposition: Grumps.

A founding member of Grandparents United for Madison Public Schools says the group has at least 300 enlisted supporters working just as hard.

The board of education approved three referendum questions, one for a second elementary school, one for operating costs, and another for $26 million in maintenance and technology costs.

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