A couple of calls for action for Sunday’s Madison Metropolitan School District Budget Hearing* (April 18th at 1:00 pm at Warner Park Community Recreation Center — 1625 Northport Dr).
The first is from an ad hoc coalition:
As you probably already know, the school board is right now struggling with how to deal with the fact that the state legislature shifted more of the costs of education to property taxpayers. Of the over $18 million in cuts they are still considering, many will disproportionately impact low income kids and kids of color. A group of individuals and representatives of organizations (including the LCEC) is working to make sure the school board knows that there is public support for programs that support struggling students, improve teaching and address the achievement gap.
So many of the kids we work with at the center are struggling in school. These cuts are going to make things even worse for them, and we can’t afford to let things get worse.
I hope that you will consider sending an email to the MMSD Board of Education and/or attend the public hearing on April 18 to urge them to protect direct services to kids in our schools (approximately $8 million of the remaining $18 million).
1. Can you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org ? (- and ask one or two friends to do the same?) Please consider including the text below in your email (especially the bolded sentence) with whatever personal introduction or other comments you choose.
2. Can you attend the public hearing at 1pm on Sunday, April 18th at the Warner Park Community Recreational Center? (- and ask one or two friends to do the same?) If you come, please wear red (Badger gear is fine!). You do not have to speak if you don’t want to. We are planning to have a couple of speakers, and ask everyone else to stand in show of support. That was we show the public support without creating something that goes on for hours.
Dear School Board Members,
My name is… [introduce self and connection to schools here]
We recognize the enormous challenge that the School Board and the MMSD Administration has to address the remaining $18.1 million which the state legislature has shifted to local property tax-payers. We are also pleased with the School Board’s decision to preserve some important programs. Madison taxpayers place a high value on public education and have overwhelmingly supported the schools through multiple referenda over the past few years.
The community has set eliminating the achievement gap for the nearly 50% of MMSD students who are students of color as the top priority in the MMSD Strategic Plan. In light of this priority, and the fact that access to high quality public education is critically important to children from families who are marginalized due to racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic status, we ask you to maintain funding for all budget items that provide “direct services” (including those fitting “multiple categories”), and especially for those programs and learning communities that are addressing the achievement gap and issues of equity.
[add any personal experiences or stories you want to share here.]
The second is from Progressive Dane:
Time to Stand Up for Schools (again)
Despite the 2008 referendum which so many of us worked so hard to pass, state actions and inaction have once again placed the quality of our public schools in jeopardy. It is time to stand up for our schools (again).
On Sunday April 18th at 1:00 pm at Warner Park Community Recreation Center – 1625 Northport Dr. – the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education will hold their second Public Hearing on the 2010-11 district budget. The Board needs to hear from the community that we value education and are willing to pay to keep our schools strong. Progressive Dane urges community members to attend and make their voices heard.
Even if you don’t want to speak at the meeting, you can attend register with positive message. If you can’t make on Sunday, the Board can be contacted at board@madison. k12.wi.us.
Unlike in previous years when state school funding policies required large cuts to programs and services, this year the Board of Education has the authority to almost fully fund programs at current levels. Unfortunately doing so will mean substantial property tax increases. This places the Board in a difficult position and as they work through the choices before them it is essential that they be reminded of the importance our community places on education.
Many of the budget issues are complex, but the message is simple.
- For the good of the community and the future of our children, keeping our schools strong has to be the first priority.
- After 16 years of cuts to programs and services and generally declining school taxes, tax increases are preferable to further cuts.
- The over $6 million in cuts, efficiencies and reallocations initially approved at the April 12, 2010 meeting are almost entirely positive examples of fiscal responsibility. These items will have little or no effect on the quality of programs and services. The vast majority of the remaining options may have significant negative impacts and should be considered very carefully.
- The district must fund essential facilities maintenance and plan for future needs.
- Affordable MSCR and Community Education programs keep Madison healthy and make our community a desirable place to live.
- We are eager to work with the Board to achieve adequate, equitable and sustainable state school funding in Wisconsin.
For more information on the MMSD Budget see here: http://drupal. madison.k12. wi.us/node/ 6001
To show your support and keep informed, join the Stand Up for Madison Schools Facebook group: http://bit.ly/aHFTPW
Thomas J. Mertz & Jacque Pokorney
Co-Chairs, Progressive Dane
Time for Action!
Thomas J. Mertz
* Note the hearing Sunday is not the statutorily required Budget Hearing, that will come some time in May.