Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, Wisconsin

Art Rainwater, Superintendent
Minutes for Communications
July 10, 2006
Doyle Administration Building
545 West Dayton Street, Room 103
Madison, Wisconsin

Communications Committee meeting was called to order by Chair Arlene Silveira at 7:16 p.m.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Board Members Arlene Silveira, Lucy Mathiak, Ruth Robarts

Citizen Member Tim Saterfield

MEMBERS ABSENT: Three vacant positions for citizen members

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Carol Carstensen (arrived 7:46 p.m.), Lawrie Kobza (arrived 7:46 p.m.), Shwaw Vang


STAFF PRESENT: Mary Gulbrandsen, Marcia Standiford, Ken Syke, Ann Wilson-Recording Secretary

1. Public Appearances

There were no public appearances.

2. Announcements

Arlene Silveira announced that: (a) Cody Rebholz placed second out of 40 students in the nation in the 2006 SkillsUSA Championships in the related Technical Math Contest; and (b) there are three citizen member vacancies for the Communications Committee and the process for applying for these positions.

3. Desired Outcomes for the Communications Committee

(Written materials provided at the meeting: Examples of Effective Public Engagement Outcomes - attached to the original copy of these minutes.)

Arlene Silveira shared a list she compiled of Examples of Effective Public Engagement Outcomes. She suggested looking at these in a general way and identifying those that are most important. There could be discussion at the next meeting about ways of reaching those outcomes.


How are Community Partnerships Committee and Communications Committees different? Tremendous communication already going on. Work of the committee will be to broaden, find ways to better serve, find ways to keep community engaged and excited about schools.

Public Agenda has information about community engagement. Important to address the community as a whole rather than parts at a time.

Getting as well as giving information are important. A good source is neighborhood associations which are strong in Madison, include non-parents, and provide a way to tie into the community.

Would like to get feedback on likely reactions to referendum - finding the focus of public opinion, where improvements in communication need to be made. Start with questions and then address issues through effective strategies.

Board members need to be directly involved, need coordination between Board and those working to secure votes for referendum. There are questions for the Board that are not found answered on fact sheets. Turning over the political role (to the administration) will not work. Would like to know more of what people want to know.

Need to build bridges with other legislators/groups. In Madison and Dane County legislators are supportive - "preaching to the choir." Think beyond Dane County - build alliances.

Need to know audience and connect. More important to hear from people who disagree.

Committee might want to hold a strategy session. Goal is to listen to both sides- strategy has to be how to work with groups so that everyone is asking for the same thing. If preparing for referendum is a goal of the committee, need coordination and full Board involvement with groups that are supportive. Needs to be two-way communication.

Ruth Robarts suggested that the seventh example on the list, "Provide the Board of Education with information about community values, concerns, and goals for the school system, encouraging a sense of community ownership of, and responsibility for, the Madison Metropolitan School District," be identified as a key goal for communication. The referendum and other topics would fit under this goal and the Board could be involved in summarizing information with the administration and improving the confidence of the community that the Board of Education is interested in what they think.


Hope the potential exists for hearing from those not in agreement with the committee. Committee should set up the forum for supporting the referendum rather than doing the work.

Observe and understand why there are voting divisions among wards.

This committee may not be appropriate place for advocacy. The Board should do something public regarding its views; a publication may be useful. In other communities, a referendum has been successful when the Board takes a leadership role.

Will be good to dialog with the entire community over the long term. Important to know where the community stands on big issues. Interesting and exciting to find a way to dialog; community will love it.

Board members should set self standards for positive campaigning. Building a broad future for public education. Assure they will be fair and decent, with respect for opponents. Build a longer term public confidence agenda.

Need to pay attention when there are opportunities and to the places where the Board needs to build bridges.

Support as appropriate providing opportunities for two-way communication and listening. Easier for a committee than for the full Board.

Hope that a regular meeting day/time is set. Enhances credibility. Allows people to make commitments.

Arlene Silveira summarized that to provide the Board of Education with information about community values, concerns, and goals for the school system, encouraging a sense of community ownership of, and responsibility for, the Madison Metropolitan School District be the umbrella goal for the committee's work for the year, with specific topics identified under that. Examples are the referendum and four-year-old kindergarten. Next steps are to tie in with partners and community groups to talk about different ways to engage the community in discussion about the referendum and to learn what the questions are so they can be answered.

4. Ways for Citizens to Communicate about Federal and State Funding to Schools

This item was not discussed and will be included on the next meeting agenda.

5. Other Business

There was no other business.

6. Adjournment

It was moved by Ruth Robarts and seconded by Lucy Mathiak to adjourn the meeting at 8:15 p.m. Motion unanimously carried by those present.