(WORT)–With school budget season just around the corner, many public schools in Wisconsin are asking residents to give them the power, once again, to raise more revenue. 72 school districts around the state have referendums on the April 5th ballot, and the outcome of those votes will determine whether many of those schools will be able to maintain operations without cutting staff or programs.
Madison Schools will not have that option this year, since they used up their revenue authority from a 2008 referendum.
School officials say the situation here isn’t quite as dire as it is elsewhere, but they say cutting 55 full-time-equivalent staff positions, or a little over 1% of employees, is necessary to balance the budget.
Mike Barry, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services, says an expected drop in enrollment combined with minimal revenue growth are the main reasons for the cuts.
However, Barry says the district’s experts predict that next year’s projected loss of 90 out of 24,775 students will be a short-term phenomenon.
School Board member TJ Mertz says administrators have come up with a reasonable plan for balancing the budget, but that it isn’t the only possible plan. Mertz says it will be important for the public to weigh in with their priorities as the School Board takes up administrators’ recommendations in late April.
Mertz says that the proposed cuts to staff are distributed proportionately to projected drops in enrollment, with Memorial High School expected to lose the most at 5 positions.
But he says there will be targeted cuts to staff as well, particularly in the advanced learners program.
Madison Teachers’ Inc., the union that represents teachers and staff in the Madison Schools, did not immediately return requests for comment Thursday.
The School Board is expected to take up the budget proposal in late April and to pass next year’s budget by late June.