UPDATED: MMSD Board pre-approves budget items/technology plan

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Updated: Monday, May 19, 2014 --- 9:25pm

As a whole, next year's preliminary budget for the Madison School District has yet to be approved, but parts of it got an early green light Monday night.

The first item pre-approved by the school board is a nearly $2 million technology plan. Under the plan, 2500 laptops, will be leased and given to district teachers and administrators before the start of the 2014-2015 school year.

"We've been severely underfunding technology in the district for quite some time now” says MMSD Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Cheatham.

The district is also one step closer to expanding diversity. The board pre-approved a plan to grow the number of diverse teachers throughout the district. The plan is called "Grow Your Own Staff”. It was put in place in 2013. Five staff members, 1 Latino, 2 Latina, and 2 African American, are currently working toward teacher certification. Next year, five more staff members will do the same.

"These are current staff members who are interested in becoming licensed teachers” says Cheatham. The goal is to grow the number of teachers and diversity at the same time.

The third item pre-approved is a behavior education plan, which includes the addition of a Behavior Education Program Coordinator.

"It's extremely important that we can start the next school year strong. And these early approvals help us prepare for that strong start to the school year” Cheatham says.

The board will vote on the preliminary budget, as a whole, on June 16.

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Posted: Monday, April 28, 2014 --- 9:45pm

Property taxes for Madison homeowners may be going up, if a preliminary budget for the next school year moves forward.

Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Cheatham presented that preliminary budget, Monday night, at the school board meeting.

Superintendent Cheatham is proposing a 2.1% property tax hike for the 2014-2015 school year. Madison property owners would be looking at forking an average of $58 more (based a home value of $231,000).

Total spending is proposed to be about $402 million. That's up from last year's roughly $393 million. Also up from last year is state aid. That's expected to increase from $52.3 million to $60.4 million .

What will the extra money go toward? For one thing, the district is expecting student enrollment to increase by 1%. The district also wants to increase staffing and put in place a new technology plan.

Superintendent Cheatham says the tax increase is reasonable and very much needed to make education stronger in Madison.

"Our priorities are all about raising student achievement and narrowing and eliminating achievement gaps, so we rebuilt this budget. We feel very good about the budget. We think it's solid” says Cheatham.

How does Dane County's property taxes currently compare to surrounding counties? Dane County property owners currently pay about $4200 in property taxes. That's ranked the #61 highest county in the U.S., according to the Brookings Institute.

To see how your county stacks up head to:
http://www.brookings.edu/research/interactives/2013/county-property-taxes-map

The following is a timeline for the budget:

May 12: Budget Hearing #1
May 19: Budget Hearing #2
May 19: Board votes to adopt preliminary budget
October: Board votes on final budget

To view the preliminary budget in its entirety head to:
https://www.madison.k12.wi.us/files/budget%20book%20FINAL%20version%20reduced-1.pdf


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