Dear Madison School Board Members and Superintendent Cheatham,
The Madison Metropolitan School District budget must be aligned with the needs and values of this community. A community that supports its teachers and other public employees. A community that overwhelmingly passed a referendum in 2008 expressing concern for the state of our buildings and facilities. A community that values our system of education as the centerpiece to a functioning democracy.
We, the undersigned, ask that you enact the recommendations made in the Student Senate report on the budget:
- Shift funding from our Technology Plan and invest in our crumbling school facilities;
- Fully fund the increase in health care premiums for our teachers. While plan changes make a difference, our teachers shouldn't have to face uncertainty in their financial futures;
- Provide a wage increase for employees, many of whom have yet to catch up from mandated cuts;
- Provide adequate support for students struggling to learn basic skills, including reducing elementary class sizes;
- Eliminate the high expenditure for the Teacher Match applicant screener;
- Eliminate increased fees on our students, including school lunch fees to protect our families that are already struggling with high housing costs and low wages.
In a community where tens of thousands took to the streets in support of our public schools and public employees, we expect that our students are supported in learning, staff are adequately compensated, and the needs of students and families that are struggling the most are prioritized.
Right now, Madison's elected officials are considering changes to our policy on the use of Tax Incremental Financing (TIF). The existing policy prioritizes the use of pubic financing for projects that would not otherwise happen, provide affordable housing, and create jobs that pay a living wage; especially in areas with the greatest need.
However, the City's Economic Development Committee, backed by powerful interests like the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Madison, Inc., proposed changes which would allow funding for projects that would happen regardless of tax financing and could weaken the benefits gained through our TIF system.GOAL: 500 signatures
We, the undersigned, believe that our tax dollar should only fund projects with direct public benefit that wouldn't happen without public financing. We believe projects should address the needs of the community for affordable housing and jobs that pay a family-supporting wage.