Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, Wisconsin

Art Rainwater, Superintendent
BOARD OF EDUCATION
Minutes for Communications
September 11, 2006
Doyle Administration Building
545 West Dayton Street, Room 103
Madison, Wisconsin

Communications Committee meeting was called to order by Chair Arlene Silveira at 6:01 p.m.

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

Citizen Members Deb Gurke, Tim Saterfield, Wayne Strong

MEMBERS ABSENT: One vacant citizen member position

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Carol Carstensen, Johnny Winston, Jr.

STAFF PRESENT: Sue Abplanalp, Lisa Black, Pam Nash, Roger Price, Art Rainwater, Ken Syke, Barbara Lehman-Recording Secretary

1. Approval of Minutes

It was moved by Ruth Robarts and seconded by Lucy Mathiak to approve the minutes of the Communications Committee dated July 10, 2006 as distributed. Motion unanimously carried.

2. Public Appearances

There were no public appearances.

3. Announcements

There were no announcements.

4. Introduction of Citizen Members of the Communications Committee

Each of the members introduced themselves and provided some background information relative to the work of the committee.

5. Communications Goal relative to providing 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 (MMSD)

Ms. Silveira provided some history of the committee and its focus from purely legislative issues to having better dialogue with the community. She wanted to bring before the whole committee the conversation from the July meeting and sought to agree on a goal for the committee.

DISCUSSION:

Focusing on community values.

Identifying the audience.

Finding out what the concerns are before sending out a district message.

Focus of Community Partnerships Committee on parent partnerships and interactions with the schools; could use some of the same tactics but broaden to the community.

Importance of communicating with the general citizenry; 75 percent of the people do not have children in the district and their interests are completely different.

Finding what will resonate with the public.

Perception that people who do not have children in the district do not care about the schools.

Differentiating between communications "to" people rather than "with" people.

Even some caregivers feel disconnected; sometimes backpack notes do not make it home.

It was moved by Ruth Robarts and seconded by Lucy Mathiak to adopt a Communications Committee goal relative to providing 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 MMSD. Motion unanimously carried.

Items 6 and 7 were taken up together.

6. Next Steps for the First Step of the Cycle of Engagement

a. Coming together: starting conversation and dialogue; building trust and safe spaces

b. Moving forward: converting dialogue into concern-driven activity; reaching out beyond the core group

c. Sustaining momentum: building structures; developing and sustaining leadership; assessing and improving programs

7. How school board members engage in conversations about the MMSD with different community members and the solicitation of feedback about the MMSD from such community members

(Packets included written materials entitled: "Public Engagement Drives Success"; "Public Engagement Today"; San Francisco Education Fund Public Engagement Initiative." Copies are attached to the original of these minutes.)

DISCUSSION:

Breaking the monumental process down into manageable pieces.

Partnering with other people to engage district stakeholders; other groups, businesses, the media, church-based, City of Madison initiatives, Northside Planning Council, University, Allied Drive, neighborhood organizations/associations, community centers, etc. (e.g., United Way, Schools of Hope, Preschools of Hope, Rotary Club, ACE, Council of Elders).

Community sponsors as a first step; invite groups, organizations that are interested in education.

Sponsors should include those who do not necessarily agree with the district.

Make use of a professional community facilitator who is not part of the district or the board to bring in broad sections of the community.

Meal-based focus groups with few topics/questions.

Other means of communication suggested were public hearings, sessions rotated geographically, web site discussion, milestone meetings/dialogues (small group stations for each plan), task forces, budget hearings, focus groups.

There was interest expressed in the goals and concerns and possible sponsorship with the Madison Police Department.

Potential of holding forums around a topic then breaking out into small table discussions with administrators and board members facilitating.

Another suggestion - start with a state-of-the district presentation, then small groups work together. The end result is a single document signed by everyone.

Topic selection - from the Board - ongoing process.

Gaining input from people who work in public opinion - helpful to work with people who spend their time figuring out how to get feedback.

With regard to the packet material suggesting a collaborative constituency for change and improvement in schools - it was suggested to stay general and start with a basic question, i.e., something around funding, safety, boundary changes and work toward building consensus.

Staying with a specific topic may be harder than asking people what they feel are the biggest issues facing the schools.

Neighborhood associations are very different from each other. There was a suggestion to establish a liaison from the associations as a way taking the "community pulse."

Creating a two-part approach - one for how the city would like the schools to look and one for specific areas, then strategize for how to close the gaps. See if the same issues come up or common themes.

FOLLOW UP: 1) Committee members were asked to submit their suggestions for groups/organizations to be approached as sponsors for the district/Board of Education as a first step for community engagement. 2) Make suggestions on best processes and what will be needed to put this together working with different groups of people, lobbying, facilitating, etc. 3) Make suggestions for what information should be collected and how the information should be collected.

8. Engaging the Public in Dealing with MMSD Funding Issues

(Packets included written materials on the "National School Boards Association Campaign to Restore Federal Funding for America's Schoolchildren." A copy is attached to the original of these minutes.)

In reference to the packet item, Ms. Silveira asked about ways to work with the community to lobby the federal and state legislature about funding; giving tools to parents to help them understand the issues so they can feel like they are participating. She wanted to develop a model to help people get involved on the funding level.

FOLLOW UP: Think about ways to help get the public engaged on the legislative side - topic for next meeting.

9. Next Meeting Date and Agenda

Next meeting September 25 at 5 p.m. Regularly scheduled meetings on the fourth Monday of the month at 5 p.m. for the school year.

10. Other Business

There was no other business.

11. Adjournment

It was moved by Lucy Mathiak and seconded by Ruth Robarts to adjourn the meeting at 6:57 p.m. Motion unanimously carried.

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