On the Agenda, MMSD — May 10, 2010

This is late and is going to be quick.

The meeting schedule is a little confusing.  It begins in open session at 5:00 PM (Doyle Bldg. Auditorium) with “2010-11 Layoff of Employees in the Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI) Teachers Collective Bargaining Unit,” then goes into closed session for two items — Superintendent Employment Contract Modifications and Compensation, pursuant to Wis. Stat. §§19.85(1)(c) and (e) and  Conferring with legal counsel concerning strategy and legal options with respect to litigation in which the District may become involved regarding contracts held by the Board, pursuant to Wis. Stat. §19.85(1)(g) — then back to open session at 6:00 for the remainder of the agenda.  The Superintendent contract issue is intriguing.  It is also the last item on the open meeting agenda.

I assume that like most meetings, both portions of the open session will be carried by MMSD-TV.   There will be public appearances.

The first item is the election of officers.  The President and Vice president have in practice been decisive in setting the agendas, so this is important.  Although I don’t like the way the Budget work evolved into cutting this to add that, if she is willing I’d like to see Arlene Silveira continue as President.

Next are the President’s announcements:

  • The Student online election for Student Representative and Alternate Student Representative to the Madison Board of Education will take place from May 19 through May 21, 2010.
  • West High School and Hamilton Middle School both won state titles in the Wisconsin State Science Olympiad.
  • Sherman Middle School has been chosen to receive funding for a new 21st Century Community Learning Center program at the school.

The Superintendent’s Announcements include:

Quick takes, one at a time.

Literacy Evaluation

The Hanover Report isn’t much more than a literature review, with some references to other districts that have done evaluations.  I hope we didn’t pay much for this (I can’t find an expenditure).

As to the next steps, there is much that is worrisome here.  First, the primary assessment tool recommended is the WKCE, with a classroom level Value Added Analysis employed.  Leaving aside the limits and inappropriateness of the WKCE, the numbers just aren’t there to do a meaningful classroom level analysis of anything.  The noise to signal ratio is too high because the data sets are too small.   This would be a waste of resources.

More generally, I hope the Board has a thorough discussion of what they want from this report and clearly state their desires before authorizing anything in the way of concrete next steps, particularly if the direct cost is in the $100,000 range and the indirect cost in staff time is also large.

My advice would be begin by looking at the districts mentioned in the Hanover Report, find out what they did and what was useful and what wasn’t.  That would be a great starting point.

Strategic Plan Update

Scheduled for May 26 before something called the Strategic Plan Steering Committee.  I can’t find any listing of members of that committee.  I do hope that the community is well-represented, because sine the second phase things seem to be all staff all the time.

Global Academy

A good program.  There is a reference to a budget document that is not included.  Since we are counting our pennies these days, it would be good to have that.

Race to the Top

The memo is interesting, like a train wreck is interesting.  Wisconsin isn’t going to win and if we did MMSD won’t be able to fulfill the terms (nor should we want to).  Time to drop out of this race; past time.

There are a few things worth mentioning on the Consent Agendas.

From Organizational Support:

It is recommended that the Board approve contracts with UW Sports Medicine and Capitol Lakes for the use of the warm water and/or lap pools on their premises for MSCR Goodman Rotary 50+ Fitness Aquatic programming. The total expenditure at UW Sports Medicine shall not exceed $34,000, and at Capitol Lakes $21,000, for a grand total for both contracts of not more than $55,000. . Funding for these contracts shall be collected through participant fees during FY2010-11.

At a time when money is so tight that the Board is cutting left and right, $55 Grand seems like  a lot.

Many moves, retirements and separations in the Human Resources report, the biggest being the separation on Building Services honcho Doug Pearson.  Also of interest is that the Substitute contract is up for approval.  there is no copy linked and I can’t find anything on the MTI site.  I’m curious whether this is a 0% increase contract?

I always like the legislative advocacy, here are the items:

Legislative Liaison Report
1 MMSD Representation on WASB Policy Committee for Fall 2010
2 Focus of MMSD Lobbying Efforts to the Madison Area Legislative Delegation
3 Future Middle and/or High School Visit by Madison Legislative Delegation

In light of MMSD quitting WASB, I’m not clear what the representation item is about.

The last item is “Modifications to the Superintendent’s 2009-11 employment contract and establishment of the Superintendent’s salary for the 2010-11 contract year.”   Again, there is nothing linked.  Supt Dan Nerad was given an extension and a raise recently.  By my tally, the reorganization shrinks his responsibilities to some degree.  I don’t believe an annual evaluation has been completed in the almost two years he has been here; I know none has been made public.   I’m interested to see what this is about.

One other meeting this week.  The Educational Services Advisory Council(another group that I can’t find a membership list for) is meeting Wednesday at 3:30 at Urban League of Greater Madison (2222 S. Park St.).  The agenda includes Professional Development, work on various grants, Dual Language Immersion and assessment initiatives.  I’d like to know more about who this is and waht they are charged with.

I’ve got both SAGE and Budget posts in the works, but very little time at the moment for blogging.  Check back.

Thomas J. Mertz

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Filed under "education finance", Accountability, Arne Duncan, Best Practices, Budget, Contracts, education, finance, Local News, Uncategorized

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