It is a full meeting this week (Agenda here) but this is going to be a quick post. After an Executive session on litigation issues (Federal — ?! — and personal injury), the main meeting commences at 6:00 PM (Doyle Administration Bldg. 545 W. Dayton Street, Auditorium). Like almost all Board meetings, this will be carried by MMSD-TV.
Budget matters (all the district info linked here) are last on the agenda but first on everyone’s minds, so I’m going to start there.
As noted previously Board Members agreed to work through the remaining Budget Options and share their “yes, no and maybe” lists. These were due last Friday. because of open meetings concerns, these have not been shared, but may be available to Board Members (and the public I hope) at the meeting.
There has been one update to the Board/Admin Q&As since March 29 on Discussion Items 201-228 (I actually don’t see anything new, but the section is dates April 12).
I also don’t see any updates or much needed fixes to the Budget Book as of this writing.
In a related matter, there may be some action around facilities issues. Susan Troller has the story on the Cap Times. The recent district Facilities Assessment, memo and spreadsheet are here. Some older related documents may be found here, here, here and here.
The very last item on a full agenda is “2010-11 MMSD Budget Reduction and Efficiency Options for Addressing the Property Tax Impact of and Revenue Gap within the Projected 2010-11 District Budget.” It is starred for possible action.
Now from the top.
First is a resolution of thanks to Johnny Winston Jr. This is his last meeting. Thanks Johnny (a fuller thanks here).
Next, Public Appearances. It will be interesting to see if people show up en masse on Budget things, or if they wait for the Public Hearing on Sunday (April 18th at 1:00 pm at Warner Park Community Recreation Center — 1625 Northport Dr).
Board President’s Announcements follow, including the receipt of a $10,000 Toyota TAPESTRY grant for excellence and innovation in science education by one of my favorite activist teachers, Troy Dassler. Congratulations!
Here is a video of Troy’s students:
You can read about some of Troy’s creative teaching here and see more video and read more here.
Two important items in the Superintendent’s Announcements and Reports. First is the Board of Education/Superintendent Communication Goal Action Plan. It looks like some minor modifications from the March version. Some thoughts on that version in this post and this one too. Things like the facilities matter mentioned above and the Budget Book problems (as well as some of the back-and-forth at recent meetings) indicate that the communications issues are pretty bad right now. The plan is start, but not a panacea.
Next is the Job Descriptions for the Reorganization (PART 1, PART 2, PART 3). These help a little with understanding what is envisioned, but so much of this remains vague and blurry that I continue to think the approval and implementation are premature. One thing worth noting is that although the Chief Learning Officer is a new position, it replaces the existing Chief of Staff, so the budget line gets shifted and all the expense is not new. One other thing that bothers me is that there has been little or no discussion of how this new organization and the new positions change the job description of the Superintendent. Since prior to the reorganization plan announcement Dan Nerad’s contract was extended — with a raise and without any annual evaluation that I can find — this bothers me.
Lots of things on the Consent Agenda that probably deserve attention, but I don’t have the time today.
The Legislative Liaison report is on the prospects of the pending state proposal to raise the SAGE class sizes to 18. I have very mixed feelings about this. It would provide some relief, but it is another instance of lowering expectations instead of making the difficult choices needed to fund education. Here are those links again: Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools, Penny for Kids, School Finance Network and the AMPS “Take Action” page. Get involved in changing this downward spiral!. For the economics of SAGE, see these posts: Sage Thoughts and SAGE on the Chopping Block.
A couple of other items, but this hits what is most important, on the agenda.
Thomas J. Mertz