Madison School Board passes budget

District also searching for new superintendent
Madison School Board passes budget

The Madison Metropolitan School District’s Board of Education passed a budget on Monday night for the 2012-2013 school year.

The $376.2 million budget passed late Monday increases overall spending by 0.8 percent, and the levy by 4.95 percent.

Taxes on the average Madison home are expected to increase by approximately $85 a year. The board also decided to dip into its “rainy day” fund to cover additional expenses.

Board members expressed frustration with the need to make cuts.

“This district has seen cut after cut after cut, millions of dollars, and they do directly impact people in Madison and they do directly impact the kids, and we’re not telling that story loudly enough,” said board member Maya Cole.

“I think we’re sort of pushing a lot into the future that we’re going to have a very hard time dealing with next year,” said board member Mary Burke.

Monday’s meeting could be the last for outgoing district Superintendent Dan Nerad, who was offered a job leading the school district in Birmingham, Mich. The administrators in the Detroit suburb said that they want Nerad to start July 1.

The board also increased the amount of money going into Nerad’s plan to fix the district’s achievement gap. The board plans to spend $4.5 million instead of the $4.4 million Nerad proposed.

One of Nerad’s toughest critics over that plan, Kaleem Caire, CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, said the board should be focused on finding a new leader who can truly bridge the achievement gap.

“I think they need to focus on getting a superintendent. That should be clearly their focus as a school board. We are without a superintendent now; that has to be priority No. 1,” Caire said.

Board members said they have a short list of candidates to replace Nerad on an interim basis. However, the list of candidates has grown to more than six.

Madison School Board passes budget

Board members said they are looking for an interim superintendent who doesn’t want the permanent job. The board approved $75,000 for a search to find a permanent superintendent.

The board said it doesn’t know yet when Nerad’s last day with the district will be. Nerad could leave as soon as July 1, although the Madison board must wait for the Birmingham school district to give Nerad a start date.

If Nerad leaves without giving five months notice,  the board can revise the benefits he would receive for leaving. Right now, he stands to get nearly a $40,000 retirement bonus.