The Madison School Board adopted a $433.6 million budget for the 2013-14 school year Monday night.
In two separate votes, the board passed the budget and tax levy 6-1, with member Mary Burke casting the no votes.
The $433.6 million budget includes a $260.4 million tax levy. The levy means homeowners will pay $12.03 per $1,000 of assessed value, up 51 cents from last year. That translates to a $119 increase over last year on the average $231,000 Madison home.
The 4.47 percent increase over last year’s $249.3 million levy is smaller than what district officials originally expected to seek from the school board. After losing $8.8 million in general state aid, the levy was expected to increase 7.38 percent according to Mike Barry, assistant superintendent for business services.
General state aid is based on a complicated funding formula that takes into account student population, property wealth and district spending. Madison’s aid was hit hard because its spending per pupil grew 9.9 percent last year, compared with a statewide average increase of 2.8 percent, said assistant state superintendent Brian Pahnke.
District officials were able to reduce the levy by using $4.1 million in reserve funds and reducing general fund expenditures 1 percent for the next school year. About $2.5 million of that will come from a debt service fund and another $1.6 million will come from a surplus in a community recreation fund, Barry said.
Barry said using surpluses is not a good long-term practice for the district but said it was a suitable short-term solution to mitigate the impact the district’s taxpayers feel resulting from the loss in state aid.
“Any time that you use a surplus you need to recognize that it’s not a recurring source of revenue. … Recognizing that we were dealing with a substantial loss in state equalization aid and a tax levy (increase) threatening to be higher than 5 percent — these are short-term strategies that were used to bring the levy down to what the board thought was an acceptable level,” Barry said.
Barry said he expects the district to receive more state aid next year.
“We have been now through a peak-and-valley cycle with equalization aid,” he said. “Going forward we expect the equalization aid to rebound next year partially. Beyond that it’s too early to say because we’d be outside of a two-year state budget.”
Monday’s adopted budget also includes 1.5 percent raises for special education assistants, food service employees and security staff. Other district employees will see a 1 percent increase.