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Madison Metropolitan School District

2024 Referenda

The Madison Metropolitan School District is at a pivotal transition time. As valued members of our community, your input and feedback are vital as we work together to address academics, funding, and facilities.

If you were unable to attend our in-person engagement sessions you still have an opportunity to share your feedback.

We invite you to watch the attendence specific presentations below and take the survey to provide feedback around: 

  • The current state of our facilities and their impact on teaching and learning.

  • Strategies for revitalizing our learning environment.

  • Needs and aspirations unique to each school community.

Your thoughts, feedback, and ideas will help shape what’s next for MMSD as we work together to build a brighter future. Together, we can ensure that every student has access to a high-quality education in a supportive and enriching environment preparing them for college, career, and community.

May 7, Memorial High School

Watch the Presentation

Take the Survey

May 9, West High School

Watch the Presentation

Take the Survey

May 14, La Follette High School

Watch the Presentation

Take the Survey

May 21, East High School

Watch the Presentation

Take the Survey

Join us and let's build a better tomorrow for our students and community.


MMSD students all ages

The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) is at a pivotal transition time. Over the past 12 years, MMSD has navigated fiscal challenges stemming from inadequate state resources for public education. As we continue to embark on a journey to transform instruction and enhance school climate, we’re facing ongoing disruptive cuts from the state.

MMSD faces an anticipated budget shortfall beginning in the 2024-2025 school year. Had state funding kept pace with inflation, MMSD would have received over $20.8 million in vital support for the 2023-24 academic year. Yet, we grapple with the financial strain as healthcare costs escalate for our more than 6,000 employees and we work to retain top-tier educators – all while providing an exceptional educational experience for over 25,000 students.

One of the ways MMSD continues to focus on high-quality education is through investments in literacy instruction. Grounded in the science of reading, the district has prioritized teacher professional development and curriculum resources to improve students’ academic outcomes.

MMSD also remains steadfast in investing in early learning opportunities, including funding full-day four-year-old (4K) kindergarten. State formulas discount the funding of 4K learners, counting students as “half” a child and only providing funding to support their education at 50 percent, leaving school districts to cover the other 50 percent from their general fund.

State funding inadequacies extend to special education. Public schools are required to provide these important services to the students who need them, however, the state covers only 31 percent of these costs. This left MMSD with a $66.4 million gap in 2023-2024, which needed o be covered by MMSD's general fund.

Meanwhile, record increases to private and independent charter schools by the state government add to financial challenges to public schools. MMSD is required by state law to allocate nearly $11 million of public tax dollars to support private and independent charter schools.

MMSD is not alone in this struggle. Across Wisconsin, public schools face budgetary concerns due to insufficient state funding. Public schools operate under a revenue limit formula, designed by the state government. These limits dictate the amount of state aid and local taxes a school district receives each year to operate. Over the past decade, the revenue limit has become increasingly restrictive. With little or no annual revenue growth to meet the rising cost of inflation and student needs, school districts must turn to cuts in personnel, programs, and services, or ask taxpayers for authority to increase the revenue limit through a referendum.

The April 2024 ballot saw 92 school referendums state-wide, including four in Dane County, with 66 percent earmarked for operational expenses.

Despite these challenges, MMSD believes in a responsible approach to budget development. Each year, the district focuses on teaching and learning priorities, finding efficiencies and repurposing funds. But even with this smart approach, over time, state cuts and restrictive limits will take a dangerous toll on our community’s public schools.

Learn More About Public School Funding

20.8 million dollar funding gap

Over the last decade, State Revenue Limits have not kept pace with inflation causing $20.8 Million revenue gap in 2023-24 alone.

half a child

4K students only count as a half-person for state aids per state law. In MMSD, we cover those critical early learning expenses so students can attend 4K classes for the full day.

31% Special Education reimbursment rate

A 31% State Special Education reimbursement results in $66.4
million MMSD funding gap this year alone. Statewide a $1.5 billion annual State Special Education funding gap.

speech bubbles bright colors

The MMSD Board of Education is considering two referenda questions for the community to vote on in November 2024: one for facilities improvements and one for operations. To inform these plans and ensure the needs and priorities of community members are met, MMSD solicited community feedback through a survey and community engagement sessions in February and March of 2024 receiving 2,027 responses.

Community feedback survey ReportCommunity Leader Think Tank ReportWatch the Community Presentation


Key priority areas to ensure college, career, and community readiness

Early Learning

Thanks to the 2020 operating referendum, MMSD has been able to continue to increase four-year-old kindergarten (4K) throughout the district. For the 2023-2024 school year, 27 MMSD schools offer half or full-day 4K programs. For full-day programs, nearly 66% of learners are students of color. In the 2024-2025 school year, we will begin to offer 4K dual-language immersion programming.

MMSD has been making ongoing and sustained investments in early literacy to improve student outcomes. We are continuing to invest in teacher and staff professional development around reading fundamentals and how to teach reading.

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student reading a book

Multilingual Education

Multilingual education is also an important priority at MMSD. Twenty-seven percent of students are English language learners. Across our district, 21 schools offer Dual-Language Immersion. MMSD also offers Advanced Placement language courses and the Seal of Biliteracy.

As part of our 2020 Referendum, middle school students now experience daily world language. With globalization and increasing cultural diversity, being bilingual or multilingual opens doors to enhanced communication, cultural understanding, and broader career opportunities.

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Students playing instraments

Well Rounded Opportunities

Well-rounded opportunities foster creativity within arts and music, providing purposeful engagement with in-depth, varied content knowledge. This ensures students are ready for post-secondary education and opportunities across industries, disciplines, and careers.

Well-rounded opportunities must allow for collaborative learning and exploration, requiring facilities that align to 21st century learning to promote deeper learning. Expansion of programs, updated facilities, and partnerships with Madison College have allowed 61% of students to graduate with some college credit.

Additionally, MMSD students took more than 3,000 Advanced Placement tests in 2023. And 54% of our students participate in co-curricular activities. Our district is continuing to expand opportunities that exist at the high school level to middle school.

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Two students working together

Culture & Climate

Our teachers and staff work to create thriving school cultures and positive learning environments. Part of this is ensuring inclusive spaces so all of our students feel welcomed and supported at school. For example, the district invested $4.3 million to upgrade accessibility and inclusivity at 33 school playgrounds.

We have also worked to renovate and build private spaces for students’ health and well-being needs. We want our students to be able to be their best selves at school. The MMSD School-Based Mental Health and Well-Being team supports students, families, and school staff at every stage of their educational journey. MMSD has therapists at the four comprehensive high schools as well school-based health centers at 16 middle and elementary schools.

Learn More