Ready, Set,…No

traffic light redGeneration X, “Ready, Steady, Go” (click to listen or download)

1910 Fruitgum Company, “1, 2, 3 Red Light” (click to listen or download)

With  much joy and no little fanfare, the preliminary budget passed by the Madison Metropolitan School District in May restored the “Ready, Set, Goal” conferences that teachers and parents found so valuable.   With the opening of school less than one week away “Ready, Set, Goal” conferences are not on the schedule.  At best they are on hold — perhaps until after the potential to shape those crucial days and weeks –; at worst they will not happen at all.  Very disappointing.

Apparently there are contractual issues that have not been settled.

I don’t know what the issues are.  I do know that with most of four months to work with, there should have been a way to make the conferences happen.

There had been or is  a memorandum of understanding in place  to establish “the terms… should finances become available to reinstate the program.”  MTI included a desire to renew that understanding in an April 2009 negotiations update.  I can’t find a copy of the memorandum, so I don’t know what those terms are/were.  I also don’t know if one or both parties are seeking changes to those terms.

While on the topic of “I don’s know,” (lots of them today) I’d like to know what is being done with $267,000 cost included in the preliminary budget (since shifted to stimulus/ARRA sources).

I’d also like to know why at their last meeting the Board was told that they needed to approve $98,918 in ARRA IDEA funding and $160,576 in ARRA Title I funding for “Ready, Set, Goal” conferences in 2009 and what will happen with that money?

Mostly, I’d like to know how such a positive thing went awry.

Thomas J. Mertz

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3 Comments

Filed under "education finance", Best Practices, Budget, Contracts, finance, Local News, School Finance, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Ready, Set,…No

  1. Ed Hughes

    Thanks for following the Ready, Set Goal issue. My understanding is that MTI has to agree to a Memorandum of Understanding in order for the Ready, Set, Goal conferences to take place this fall. While there is no significant disagreement about the terms of the MOU, MTI is declining to sign the MOU because there is not yet agreement on the overall contract.

    This is a disappointing situation. At the initial prompting of Lucy Mathiak, the Board unanimously agreed that RSG conferences are important for students, teachers and families and worked hard to get the conferences reinstated in an extremely challenging financial environment. It is hard to see MTI’s approach here as anything other than counterproductive and contrary to the best interests of students and their teachers.

  2. Ed

    Thanks for the information. As I said, I’m not privy to many of the details and share your disappointment.

    I think from a long term (dare I say “strategic”?) perspective it is worth noting that this is in part a result of the practice of allowing contracts to expire before anew contract is in place. I realize that this year the QEO and arbitration rules in the state budget created a special case, but maybe in the future both sides could make it a priority with this and other union agreements to conclude negotiations prior to expiration.

    • Jackie Woodruff

      As a parent that was looking forward to the re-instatement of the ready-set-go conferences, I think a statement should come out from the BOE as to why the conferences they brought back did not happen.

      We had classroom newsletters passed out at registration with the ready-set-go portion of the newletter lined out. Parents are confused as to what is going on and why. Huegel Elementary solved the problem by holding a one hour meet and greet Friday at lunch to “drop off supplies”.

      I struggle with the fact that as a parent we teach our children not to interact with strangers, then we turn around on the first day of school and dump them (kindergarteners especially) off with a stranger on the playground.

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