Saving Our Schools: State Level Update and Next Steps

The Assembly Parlor was PACKED today for Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts’ press conference calling on the Legislature to reform school finance by July 2009. Speakers came from the Florence School District up north, Waukesha, Madison and Milwaukee. Madison West Senior Jacinth Sohi did a FABULOUS job putting a human face on what the budget cuts have meant to Madison students. Great job, Jacinth and the Madison Student Council! (Look at the picture in today’s Cap Times to see how our students created a visual image of school funding problems).

So, next steps??

— Contact the two legislative chairs of education and ASK FOR A HEARING ON SCHOOL FINANCE REFORM. (Brett Davis in the Assembly or 266-1192; John Lehman in the Senate at or 266-1832. This can get the ball rolling on encouraging the Legislature to put something concrete into action to reform school finance.

— Contact every member of the Joint Committee on Finance to ask them for increased funding this year for Categorical Aids (special education: $45 million this year; $55 million this year to put the state more in line with its two-thirds commitment to districts to fund special education) and renewed commitment to SAGE Funding in line with the Governor’s recommendations. Joint Finance contact info here and email contacts here.

— Write your letters to the editor:

— Attend the April 25 6:30 meeting of the MMSD Legislative Action Group (location to be determined) Contact Ken Syke at MMSD for more info at or Arlene Silveira at

— Meet with Lowell School Parents at 3:30 iApril 25 n the Capitol Rotunda to visit Sen. Mark Miller (joint Finance) and Lowell parent Rep. Joe Parisi. If other parents meet, they can probably split up and visit other key legislators as well. For more info, contact Lynn at 242-9355, Jill at 249-4377 or Jack at Find out who your legislators are by going here.

More info on the MMSD website, including sample letters and all Joint Finance contact info.

And for specifics on school finance reform, read “Death by a Thousand Cuts” at the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools site.

Beth Swedeen


Filed under AMPS, Pope-Roberts/Breske Resolution, School Finance, Take Action

6 responses to “Saving Our Schools: State Level Update and Next Steps

  1. tmertz

    Just want to second what Beth said about the hearing and the next steps.

    The hope and energy in the room was palpable. I think that there is a real shot at moving finance reform forward this time. It will take work, but more people are stepping up to help every day. Be one of them!

    I want add that Madison should be proud of all those who attended, spoke from the platform and the audience, and have worked to bring us to this point. No time for pats on the back, but smiles of pride as we keep working are allowed.


  2. Arlene Silveira

    The Board meeting on the evening of Wednesday, April 25 will be at 6:30pm at Wright Middle School. The purpose of the meeting is to outline a long-term advocacy strategy, empower community members to move this forward, dicuss best ways of communicating. The agenda is below:

    1. Update of legislative activities since the March 29 meeting

    2. Planning for long-term legislative advocacy to change the revenue limit law for K-12 public schools

    3. Identification of people who would continue to lead the process of advocating to change the revenue limit law

    4. Next steps and action items


    In your advocacy efforts, if you have encountered questions that you could not answer, please let us know. We will prepare answers to these questions if possible.

    If there is information you need to better advocate, please let us know.

    Start thinking about advocacy strategies that you can share at the meeting.

    You can either post your questions/info needed on this site or send me an email at

    Arlene Silveira

  3. Ed Blume

    What are we going to do about the disaster unfolding in the Madison school district?

    The cuts are happening NOW! Principals are being shuffled NOW! Class sizes are increasing NOW! High schools are being gutted NOW!


  4. Karen Bassler

    Just a point of clarification – Dan Brereton is president of the Florence County School District. Florence County is not in Vilas County.

    And Ed, if you would like to make a constructive comment, please do so. We are all clearly not deaf, dumb or blind. It is not a question of fighting one battle OR the other. It’s a question of fighting both simultaneously.

  5. bswedeen

    Thanks for the clarification, Karen. I’ve changed the post to reflect Florence County’s actual location. Dan was an articulate voice for how the current funding formula has affected districts and our way of life across the state.

    It can not be stated enough that the current crisis Madison schools are facing and the really painful decisions being made by leadership and the BOE are the direct results of an inadequate funding formula. For many years, Madison has been able to protect its most critical resources that have affected families most directly. Those days are over.

    For those not at the press conference today, the Waukesha School District (located in one of the most affluent counties in the state) is facing the prospect of COMPLETE ELIMINATION of ALL sport and extra-curriculars in its upcoming budget.

    The argument can no longer be made that any district is just “not being efficient” or is “wasting resources.”

  6. Troy D

    I garden a lot. When I want to get rid my garden of weeds I could certainly only cut off the heads of the dandelions after they have gone to seed, or I could focus on the root. The root of the problem is revenue caps. It is not cutting computer classes at the elementary level, selling Doyle, closing schools or cutting strings. It is getting to root of the problem. I will talk to MTI about getting our members out to next week’s rally at the Capital. Get yourself and whomever you can to join the Lowell group.

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