With the economy in recession, a pandemic raging and expensive school referendums planned for this fall, the Madison School Board is smart to limit its spending.
At least, so far it is.
The board voted 5-2 on Monday for a $471 million preliminary budget that would trim overall spending and reduce school property taxes by an estimated $8, to $3,333, for the owner of an average-valued home, which is $311,500.
We like the fiscally responsible approach, given how many taxpayers are working fewer hours or lost their jobs because COVID-19 forced many businesses to close or scale back operations.
Significantly, large raises for Madison teachers in recent years would be limited this fall, which is prudent. The average salary increase for 2019-2020 was a generous 4.4%, which includes higher pay for years of service and advanced degree credits.
The School Board on Monday directed administrators to “pause” raises for now. The board also endorsed a $100 deductible for individual health insurance, and a $200 deductible for family coverage. That’s still only a fraction of what most American workers paid last year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Strong teachers who inspire students deserve good pay and benefits because of the important and difficult work they do. Yet so much is unknown about the direction of the coronavirus and economy that caution is required.
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