On the Agenda — MMSD, Week of March 8, 2010

In the cycle, this is a full Board meeting week for Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education.  That means, most items on the agenda where initially presented and discussed during the Committee meetings last week.  For an exploration of the full agendas of those meetings, see here; for a report on what happened at the meetings, see here.

I’m not going tor repeat all that, just make a few comments here-and-there and hit the new items.

After a closed executive session that includes what  think is the first discussion of “Successor Collective Bargaining Agreements for MMSD Support Staff Bargaining Units,” cell phone tower lease agreements, and student discipline matters, the public meeting begins at 6:00 PM,  Doyle Administration Bldg., 545 W. Dayton Street in the Auditorium.  Like almost all Board meetings, this will be carried by MMSD-TV.

First on the agenda are public appearances, with a legally required separate slot for those related to the required hours waiver request for 6th and 9th grade student transitions.  I’m curious to see if the release of the budget options will bring the first round of budget related public appearances this week.

Next are the announcements, first from Board President Arlene Silviera and then from Supt. Dan Nerad”



I’ll be posting much more on the budget stuff in the coming weeks, right now I just want to say that the presentation leaves much to be desired. To get a handle on things you have to go back and forth between the “Tier” lists and the “impact statements; the impact statements aren’t very helpful in many cases, the MSCR stuff all seems randomly assigned to “Tier 2,” refinance “savings,” use of fund equity and actual cuts are all mixed together, there is no full budget to give context…

It should also be noted that a majority of four Board members have indicated they will not vote in favor of the school closing consolidation plan (considering school closings/consolidation is not necessarily a bad thing to me, but this plan — creating a 1,000 student elementary school — was ridiculous).  I’m glad that the Board members went on record because this will save all involved a lot of time, effort and pain.

The Communication Plan is a good/bad thing.  I think is good to clarify the processes for communication between the Board and the administration, some of the way this is being done  — with the whole “Action Plan” rubric — is part of the problem and the fact that such basic things as sending emails about upcoming media stories need to be listed as part of the plan is not a good sign.

The Student Achievement and Performance Monitoring items follow:

Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) After School Programs(written report).  This was one things from MSCR the Board was pleased with last week.

Annual Equity Report provided pursuant to Board Policy 9001.  This was “deferred” to June. One of the good things in the Communication Plan is that it seeks to systematize the requests by the Board for further information/redrafts.  I hope written exchanges of understandings have happened with the Equity Report and if they haven’t I hope all involved make sure they do, soon.

High School Initiatives.  This has also been “deferred,” but as far as I can tell the only issue is one of timing.

Recommendations to Increase Usage of the Infinite Campus Student Information System; see also this recent AMPS post by Jackie Woodruff.

Renewal of DPI Waiver for Days of Instruction for Sixth and Ninth Grade First-Day Transitions.

Five-Year Education for Employment Plan.

Next comes the Planning and Development portion of the meeting.

Plan to Align the Work of the Administration to the District’s Mission and Strategic Plan – the Reorganization Plan, PART 1, PART 2, PART 3.  There was and is some confusion about both the calculations and the semantics of the fiscal information.  The labeling of the use of Fund Balance Equity as “savings” was rejected by the Board, yet that does not seem to have changed and has in fact carried over to the Budget documents as Option 194 (Tier 1).  On the calculations, the currently linked version appears to be the same as the original and not the updated.  I’m not sure which is correct, but since they differ by almost $300,000 getting this right is important.

Badger Rock Charter School Planning Grant Application.  This comes with an administrative recommendation to approve.  Still unresolved issues, but in general this is a well done Charter application.  That’s good, because I get the feeling that the administration was ready to support the next reasonable one that came along, just to generate press stories like this one and change the (mis)perception of the district in relation to Charter schools.

Lindbergh Elementary Community Garden Proposal.  This is a really great project, being done within the “traditional school” framework.”

Items on Operational Support are next up.

Five-Year Financial Outlook to include Projected Budget Gaps and Tax Impacts.  In two words, not good.  It will be even worse if they keep refinancing to put off debt payments to future years (Budget Option 188, (Tier 1), as they did last year.  Refinance to save, but don’t apply  all savings and much more to a single year.

MSCR Proposed Budget Reductions and Efficiencies for 2010-11.  Despite the dissatisfaction expressed by the Board, this looks unchanged, however there is a supplementary d0cument with a 70% adult programing fee increase that is projected to generate $626, 372.  It appears that the projection assumes that there would be no loss of enrollment based on the new fees. Not a good assumption.   The MSCR reductions are listed as a single Tier 2 Budget Option item at $2,465,300 with a separate set of impact statements that appear to be the same as the “Reductions and Efficiencies” document above.  I would guess that some of these more properly belong in Tier 1, some in Tier 2, some in Tier 3 and some in Tier 4.  This is another presentation issue that causes confusion and works against efficient consideration of the options.

Energy Management Services Contract.  No projected savings in this document, but it is listed as Budget Option 197 (Tier 1) at $100,000.

Proposal for a Lease and Contract to Permit the Construction of a Cellular/Communications Tower on Gompers/Black Hawk Property.

Approval of the “Resolution Authorizing the Issuance and Sale of $28,590,000 Taxable General Obligation Refunding Bonds.” This is the Wisconsin Retirement System refinance structured to ease the implementation of 4 year-old Kindergarten.  The documents are here, here and here.  This is another refinance with savings front loaded thing, but at least this time they considered most of the the implications and had a specific purpose.

Working Timeline for Development of the 2010-11 School District Budget to include Finalizing Dates. This looks the same as this:

With the additional information that public hearings are tentatively scheduled for 6:00 PM on March 22 at the UW Space Place in Villager Mall and April 18 at 1:00 PM,  Warner Park.

For Consent Agenda items, see the listing and links on the agenda.

Also on the main agenda are outlines of reports from recent meetings of the Common Council/Board of Education Liaison Committee and the Student Senate (same link as above).

Last are two items from the Legislative Liaison.

The first is a Recommendation to renew membership in the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES).  As a Madison resident and WAES Board Member, I heartily support this.  On school finance these days, WAES and the WAES Penny for Kids campaign are where the action is.

Last is an item called, Proposed Edgewater Tax Incremental Finance District.  Since there is no TIF/TID application yet, I’m not sure what this will be.  For some of the issues involved, see this post by Board Member Lucy Mathiak: “The Edgewater TIF. Or, Can I Use My MasterCard to Pay My Visa Bill???.” So Brenda, there is an Edgewater meeting afterall.

Other district governance meetings this week are:

School Forest Advisory Board, Nevin Hatchery, 3911 Fish Hatchery Road Fitchburg, WI, The Raptor Room, Monday at 4:00 PM; 4-Year-Old Kindergarten Curriculum and Instruction Work Group, MMSD Building Services, 4711 Pflaum Road, Madison, WI, Large Conference Room, 11:00 AM on Tuesday; Ad Hoc Ethics Committee Meeting in Open Session, Doyle Administration Bldg. 545 W. Dayton Street Madison, WI, Room 103, Noon on Tuesday; Educational Services Advisory Council, Doyle Administration Bldg. 545 W. Dayton Street Madison, WI, Room 103, 2:30 PM on Tuesday (the first and the last on this list are new to me, a reminder why open meetings postings are good, they let you know what exists).

Thomas J. Mertz

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