Madison County School Districts has been on a remarkable rise in recent years, thanks in part to a school choice program.
Now, though, the school district is in danger of falling short of its goals.
The district’s budget shortfall has grown since the 2016-17 school year, when the school board approved a $1.9 billion voucher program that has given parents more control over the purchase of books, computers and other school supplies.
But those dollars have been largely used to cover school supplies and teacher salaries.
The school district says it has spent about $2.6 million so far this school year on supplies, according to a budget report it released in August.
That’s down from the $3.9 million the district spent last year.
But the district’s cash crunch could be far from over.
Madison County Schools’ budget shortfall grew from the previous year, according a budget estimate.
The district spent about the same amount last year, and has spent roughly the same amounts in the past two years.
But if the district were to run out of money this year, it would likely have to slash spending in areas like computer and supplies.
That would hurt its ability to hire and retain teachers, which is what the district hopes will happen.
But if the budget gap continues to grow, Madison County could face the same challenges as other school districts in Wisconsin.
“The bottom line is we need to get better.
We’re going to need more staff,” said Scott Schieffer, a district spokesperson.
“We’re going, I don’t know, a little bit short.”
While the district is on pace to make $1 million in budget savings this year and $2 million in next year, Schieffer said the district isn’t even close to being there yet.
“I’m hopeful we can make some kind of a positive improvement, but it’s just not there yet,” he said.
The biggest obstacle, according the budget, is funding.
While the district says that it is on track to meet its goals for fiscal 2018, the state has not allocated any additional money to the district since the beginning of fiscal year 2017.
And Schieeffer said that’s something he will have to work with the state and local governments.
“We’re working with the local and state governments to figure out ways to be more proactive in the future,” he told WITI-TV.
The state, however, is planning to give a big boost to the Madison County school district this summer.
The Wisconsin Education Agency will give the district an additional $1 billion in federal aid over the next two years, according an August news release from the Wisconsin Department of Education.
“As the economy improves, the federal government will provide more support to support the growth and development of public education,” the agency said.
The state also is planning $1 trillion in state aid to help students from low-income families.
State and local school districts are expected to take the money to help pay for a variety of programs, including teacher salaries and computer equipment.
Schieffeffer said the federal funding would go toward building classrooms, expanding teachers and hiring more staff.
But he also noted that funding for equipment and supplies could increase.
The budget also outlined plans to expand the district into other areas like technology and the arts.
The Walker administration says that the budget plan reflects the district taking more time to assess the budget and make decisions about how it will spend the money.
Schieffer said he hopes that the funding will come soon, but he said that the state needs to do more to ensure that Madison County is not just one of the most expensive districts in the state.
“It’s the only one that has a budget shortfall,” he explained.