On the Agenda: MMSD Board of Education, the Week of August 30, 2010

Note: For a while, I’m going to be illustrating the “On the Agenda” posts with various graphs documenting achievement gaps in MMSD as revealed by the admittedly flawed and limited WSAS/WKCE results. I think regular reminders may do some good.

Time for the Metropolitan School District Board of Education to get down to some serious work.  Past time.

I had high hopes that this would be a productive Summer for improving education and the governance of education in MMSD, but with 1/3 of their term complete this Board hasn’t given the public much to see.  I phrased that carefully because the one thing they have been working on is the Superintendent evaluation and all that has taken place behind closed doors, so the public hasn’t seen anything (yet, I hope).  More on the Superintendent evaluation below.

Two meetings this week; one open to the public and the other another closed session on the Superintendent evaluation.  The open meeting is 5:00 Monday, August 30 at the Lowell Center, 610 Langdon Street, Madison, WI, Room 118.   Note that this location means that there will be no broadcast or video record of the meeting via MMSD-TV.  The closed meeting is Tuesday at 5:00,  Room 103 or the Doyle Building.

The open meeting is billed as a “Workshop,” so no public testimony invited.

The first item is the approval of numerous minutes of previous meetings: October 23, October 26, 2009; February 22, March 15, April 5, May 10, June 1, June 21, June 23, and June 28, 2010.

Next comes:

Standing Committees of the School Board: Review of experience to date under the standing committee structure established by Board Policy 1031 and appointment of standing committee chairs and discuss various options.

The current structure — described in the linked policy —  was put in place at the request of Superintendent Dan Nerad.

This and other items on the agenda closely resemble the items on  the June 21 Workshop meeting.  That meeting was about goal setting for the year and also included a discussion of committee structure.

I attended that meeting, but lost my  notes in a hard drive failure.  My memory is that some progress was made on setting goals, but there was much work left to do.  My memory on the committee structure issue was that 5 of the 6 members with experience under the current structure desired changes, that there was interest in aligning the committees with the non-existent goals and that nothing was decided.

All this has been hanging there since June 21.  Without goals and a committees, the Summer has largely been wasted.

The next couple of items are also about Board duties and schedules:

3.Designating appointments/representatives and review of time commitments, expectations, roles/responsibilities in connection with:

a) The School Board Member liaisons to MMSD
schools/programs under Board Policy 1041;
b) School Board Member liaisons to community groups
implementing specific MMSD-supported initiatives; and
c) MMSD Board/School representation to various
organizations, associations, boards, committees, etc. as
described under Board Policy 1041

4.School Board and Board Committee meeting schedule and meeting structure through the first semester of the 2010-2011 school term, including identifying potential needs for public input/listening sessions, any ad hoc committees, etc.

I’m not clear on what all these committees, programs, organizations…are, or whether any of this is new (I like the idea of new, semi-formal relationships with community organizations).

As to the schedule (#4), there is only one subsequent meeting currently scheduled;  a September 13, Special Board meeting.

After these they will consider revisions of the ethics policy.  There was a draft circulated at some meeting and I have it on file (I may try to dig it up and scan), but having seen it I’m not at all clear what they are trying to accomplish or why this has become a priority.

Last up,  is  “Next Steps for Future Board Development Meetings and Topics.’  Board development is good and important, but with only 2/3 of the term left I hate to see too much time and energy devoted to Board Development.

I keep coming back to this.  Every year about 1/3 of the time and energy is devoted to budget matters, that leaves 2/3 to try to make things better.   Put it another way; it is September, budget season starts in January.  Past time to get to work.

This just leaves the closed meeting on the Superintendent evaluation.  Not much to add to what I wrote here.  My big point is that almost all of  this process should be public.  I will repost the links to things that are public:

Superintendent Goals from MMSD Board of Education Progress Report – January, 2010.

Process for Evaluation from July 20, 2009.

Revised Process for Evaluation, August 17, 2009.

Minutes of meetings where this was discussed:  November 28, 2009September 21, 2009; September 14, 2009.

That’s all folks…

Thomas J.  Mertz


Filed under Accountability, Best Practices, Budget, education, Uncategorized

3 responses to “On the Agenda: MMSD Board of Education, the Week of August 30, 2010

  1. Jim Zellmer obtained and posted the Ethics documents, allowing me to avoid the trouble of finding and scanning. He also obtained a new memo on the topic from Ed Hughes.

    Thanks Jim, and I agree that these should have been linked to the agenda.

    Jim also offers some thoughts on what the Board priorities should be; I’ll be checking in on that topic soon.

  2. Ed Hughes

    Here’s a link to my recap of what we did at last night’s Board workshop: http://edhughesschoolblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/recap-of-august-30-board-workshop/

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