Behind the Bill: Growth of Pass-Through Funds in Madison Schools

The 2021 City of Madison property tax bills show “Madison Schools” as the recipient of 49% of those taxes. The Madison Metropolitan School District is the largest recipient of funding, but a rapidly growing incidence of funds diverted to voucher schools and 2x charter schools is affecting that portion.

All of Madison’s students deserve well-funded schools, but decisions made at the state level have burdened our schools and made it difficult to respond to rising costs and urgent needs. The Madison Public Schools Foundation is committed to providing data and resources to promote transparency and meaningful discussion on the conditions facing our schools, students, and families.

To learn more, please email the Foundation’s Advocacy Coordinator, Joey Grindrod.

In the news


Via the Cap Times, December 2, 2021:  Dan Nerad’s guest column, Supportive, committed network helped MMSD ‘exceed expectations’

Via the Wisconsin State Journal, September 12, 2021:  “Melinda Heinritz: Madison’s schools have shown resilience

Via the Wisconsin State Journal, July 20 2021: “Betsy Huebel: Fix Wisconsin’s worn-out funding formula for schools

Via the Wisconsin State Journal, July 14 2021: “Dane County school districts say Tony Evers’ $125-per-pupil boost won’t help with long-term costs

June 21, 2021 Day of Action Press Conference

Via the Cap Times, May 29, 2021: “Dan Nerad: Pandemic fostering school mental health crisis

Via the WSJ, May 28, 2021: “GOP budget increases K-12 spending less than 10% of Tony Evers’ proposal

Via U.S. News & World Report, May 18, 2021: “Evers Announces $100 Million to Expand Broadband

Via the Cap Times, May 5, 2021: “Schools will receive nearly $1.5 million in Dane County grants to support mental health

Via the Wisconsin State Journal, April 30, 2021: “New Madison School Board president Ali Muldrow eyes all-day 4K, closing achievement gaps

Via the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, April 20 2021: “Governor Evers, DHS Announce More Than $175 Million to Support COVID-19 Testing in Schools

Via the Cap Times, April 7 2021: “Jill Underly wins state superintendent election; vows to ensure all schools open in the fall

On November 3, 2020, Madison residents voted to pass a historic operating and facilities referenda, delivering $350 million in resources to the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). Led by the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools, the Vote Yes 2 Invest campaign was not only integral in this victory for Madison’s public schools, students, and staff, but also marked the beginning of what is now the Foundation’s advocacy arm, Schools Make Madison Advocates. As a leading voice advocating on behalf of Madison’s public schools, we are committed to continuing the fight as our community addresses the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools Make Madison Advocates 2021 Agenda

Meet Our Advocacy Committee

  • Dan Nerad, Chair, Former Superintendent, Madison Metropolitan School District
  • Mo Cheeks, Senior Business Development Manager, Civis Analytics
  • Jill Jokela, Retired, UI Applications Development Section Chief, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development
  • Andy Lyons, Engagement Specialist, Eppstein Uhen Architects
  • Allison Reimann, Antitrust Team Co-Chair, Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.
  • Melissa Scholz, Founder, Scholz Nonprofit Law
  • Daniel Sims, Senior Director of Development, University of Wisconsin Foundation
  • Michael Walsh, AVID Tutor, Madison Metropolitan School District; Government Relations Specialist and UniServ Director (Retired), Wisconsin Education Association Council


Email Melinda Heinritz, Executive Director, Schools Make Madison Advocates.

2020 Referendum – YOU Voted ‘Yes’

On November 3, 2020, our community overwhelmingly supported an operating and facilities referendum – delivering $350 million in resources to our public schools. Through our advocacy arm, Schools Make Madison Advocacy, Inc., the Foundation powered the Vote Yes 2 Invest campaign that encouraged voters to vote YES on both referenda questions. Learn more using the resources below.

The Foundation is currently partnering with Memorial and West High Schools to support complimentary Future Ready fundraising efforts. Learn more by visiting either of the fund pages linked below:

West High:

Memorial High:


CLICK to Visit MMSD’s Future Ready Site

Learn all about how the district will move forward with referendum plans.

CLICK to Visit the Vote Yes 2 Invest Website 

Meet the extraordinary team who delivered two ‘yes’ votes on November 3rd.

Partners and Strategic Links

The Wisconsin Public Education Network (WPEN) is a grassroots, nonpartison coalition to support our public schools.

Wisconsin Policy Forum CLICK to review education research.

GRUMPS is Grandparents United for Madison Public Schools.

Wisconsin Education Association Council – CLICK for news stream.