In the Madison Metropolitan School District, we have a common vision.  We want every school to be a thriving school that prepares every student to graduate ready for college, career, and community.

Thanks to our community’s support, we are in a sound financial position to make our vision a reality. Despite uncertainty on state and national fronts, we are able to remain focused on our daily work to ensure every child is academically challenged in a safe and supportive environment.

Through the efforts outlined in our Strategic Framework, we have built positive momentum and made gap-narrowing progress over the past five years.  Our budget this year builds on this momentum and aligns with the vision, goals and core values of our next Strategic Framework which will launch in the fall of 2018.

In this budget, you’ll see several strategic investments that are specifically aimed at accelerating results for youth of color and youth whose families are low income.  These investments include:

  • the Early College STEM Academy at Madison College’s South Campus which focuses on getting more youth of color and women in STEM fields
  • better support and options for youth re-engagement with a specific focus on those high school students who are most at risk of not graduating
  • additional support for Community Schools which aims to strengthen family partnership in high needs schools located in high needs neighborhoods

We’re also making investments in our educators, through steady staffing levels, a stable employee benefits plan, and overall compensation at the maximum allowable by State Statute.  You’ll see investments in favorable class sizes aligned with a newly adopted class size policy that help our teachers build strong relationships and meet students’ individual needs.  Finally, you’ll see investments in a new safety and security plan aimed at making sure our buildings are both welcoming and secure.


  • April 30: Draft Preliminary Budget Presented to Board
  • May 01: Draft budget posted to MMSD Website, Budget input portal opened
  • May 14: Budget Input Session #1 at Operations Workgroup
  • May 14 - June 1: Board Amendment Process
  • June 11: Budget Input Session # 2 at Operations Workgroup, Confirm Board Amendments for June 30 vote
  • June 25: Vote to adopt preliminary budget

Frequently Asked Questions: 

The following questions provide background information and context around the compensation decisions that the board is made – considering how to increase employee compensation as much as possible, while keeping multiple year planning in mind.

What is currently included in the budget for employee pay increases?

  • Annual step advancement pay on the employee wage/salary tables.  These step pay increases range from 0% to 9% depending on the employee’s years of experience.  On average, the step pay increases provide approximately a 2.0% pay increase. 
  • Across-the-board increase (sometimes called a base wage increase) of 2.13%, the maximum allowed by the State.  The combination of these two components of compensation is approximately 5.10% on average, while the range of individual pay increases is 2.13% to 9.5%.  Base wage is a required subject of collective bargaining.  The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) (see sets the maximum base wage increase allowed under state law, which is 2.13% for contracts beginning July 1, 2018. 
  • No increase to employees for health care costs.

In addition to the compensation items described above, the budget proposal includes the following targeted actions:

  • A $230,000 compensation increase to the EA/SEA salary schedule to honor for years of service following the new $15 minimum wage adjustment in the 2017-18 budget.
  • An additional $170,000 compensation allowance to fund a targeted strategy to consolidate and improve the salary schedules for Principals.  The principal schedule will include salary components based on school size and complexity to address the gaps in a schedule solely based on elementary, middle and high school roles.

What Is a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2018? 

A cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) usually refers to the adjustment made to social security income (or other income) to counteract the effect of inflation, and is typically equal to the percentage increase in the consumer price index for urban workers (CPI-U).  According to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, the CPI-U for the period beginning July 1, 2018 is 2.13%.  According to WERC rules, base wage increases may not exceed 2.13% for labor agreements renewing July 1, 2018.

Does the Preliminary Budget Proposal fund an employee pay increase equal to the cost of living adjustment? 

When step advancement and base wage are considered together, the approved budget not only provides a COLA raise for MMSD employees, it exceeds it.  Step pay advancement combined with a COLA increase is approximately a 5.10% pay increase per employee, or about double the COLA increase of 2.13%.

What does the District’s revenue forecast show for the next few years?

For the past ten years, school district revenue growth has been constrained by state policymakers at $204 per pupil or less (in 2015-16 the increase was zero).  If we use $200 per pupil as a projection going forward, MMSD can expect revenue growth of approximately $5.5 million per year.  

At the same time, the projected costs of employee COLA increases is $5.0 million (using 2.5% as CPI-U), step pay increases are $4.5 million, and the expected increase in health insurance premiums is $3.3 million (using 5.5% as the projected annual increase in health premiums).   The combined cost of just these three items is $12.8 million, more than double the expected revenue growth. 

These revenue-expenditure projections suggest that it will be necessary to reexamine the fundamental assumptions within the MMSD annual budget for future years. 

When does the Board’s extra revenue authority (Nov 2016 referendum) run out?

In the near term, the community approved additional tax levy authority for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years which totals $8.0 million each year.  This will help with the annual budget balancing challenge, but the Board must also manage the total tax levy increase and plan ahead for the inevitable funding drop off in 2020-21.

What is included in the budget for employee health insurance?

Following a year of significant change, our goal for 2018-19 is to maintain stability in the health insurance benefit and in the employee benefits in general.  A budgetary allowance for a premium increase of approximately 3.85% is built into this budget proposal.  Plan design changes and/or employee premium contribution increases within the major HMO plans are not necessary this year.  (Beginning July 1, 2017 the MMSD health insurance plan was modified to offer a choice of two HMOs (GHC and Dean) rather than a three HMO model.  Over $3.0 million of savings was redistributed into the wage and salary schedules).

Health insurance is important from a budgetary perspective due to its very large share of the total operating budget.  Annual premiums for active employees are $59 million. Employees currently pay between 1.25% and 10.0% of the insurance premium, based on the employee’s job title, with a higher contribution rate for those who elect to not participate in the wellness program.

Benefits have historically been considered as a tool for finding and retaining the best employees.  See State data on other districts benefits here.

Seeking your input

As we do with each budget development cycle, we would like your feedback on the budget recommendations.