Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, Wisconsin

Art Rainwater, Superintendent
Minutes for Communications
November 27, 2006
Doyle Administration Building
545 West Dayton Street, Auditorium
Madison, Wisconsin

Communications Committee meeting was called to order by Chair Arlene Silveira at 5:03 p.m.

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

Citizen Members: Deb Gurke, Tim Saterfield, Wayne Strong


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


STAFF PRESENT: Mary Gulbrandsen, Pam Nash, Art Rainwater, Marcia Standiford, Ken Syke, Nancy Yoder, Ann Wilson-Recording Secretary

1. Approval of Minutes

It was moved by Lucy Mathiak and seconded by Deb Gurke to approve the minutes of the Communications Committee meeting dated October 23, 2006. Motion unanimously carried.

2. Public Appearances

There were no public appearances.

3. Announcements

There were no announcements.

4. Update on Planning for and Structure of Community Conversations

Arlene Silveira reported she met with Ken Syke and talked about how to move forward with getting input and structuring meetings. She also met with another professional about this. The feedback she received was that if the committee wanted to hear about what the community values, it would be "casting such a wide net." The committee would receive so much information, probably scattered, difficult to work with, hard to measure, and not useful. This person's recommendation was to narrow the request to three to four specific topics and work with a professional organization. Ms. Silveira plans to contact Chamberlain Research Consultants and set up an initial meeting to discuss setup and how decisions might be made so that the committee can continue after this initial assistance. She will report back to the committee at the next meeting, or at least by the January meeting, regarding Chamberlain's recommendations.


Are there any general questions the Board of Education would like to get community input on that could be incorporated at the same time?

Board's relationship with constituents is an issue. Narrowing the input focuses on what the committee wants to hear, not what the community wants to say.

Could link with Community Partnerships Committee efforts to find ways to make connections with groups that are not now connected and with ways to make the district more welcoming.

Community Partnerships Committee will be using small group discussion of two questions and then reporting to the larger group to come up with a similar set of issues. More of an internal discussion with report out.

Good to hear from groups not always heard from. Suggest survey as another tool for some topics.

Remember good idea about co-sponsors. Should have role in start-up phase; should be consulted before narrowing the questions.

Examples of some big district-wide questions - safety, how high achievement expectations should be, etc.

Important to convey interest in gathering information and desire for community input. Need to be very open about what we would like to know and what we would like to get out of this. Organizations can help with what is important. Hone in on values issue, help them to focus, and then invite feedback.

Circular process. Is it fair to go to sponsors with perhaps three topics, assuming there will be different feedback from different groups. Ask about their questions. Where do you begin?

Asking community for input about plans we already have, and looking forward, longer term, to the future. Dovetail with strategic priorities and use them for support. Interest is to get help to plan for the future.

Mission, vision, beliefs is a very good place to start. Does the community buy in? Do they still believe? Guides everything staff does.

Still a group of people who feels disconnected. Say they are disregarded - perhaps only their perception. People believe they are not heard.

Agree we need to deal with concerns, have a list of questions that could generate discussion. If people do not believe we care, time is well spent in discussion.

Community Partnerships Committee is also concerned with feelings of disconnect. Are in a rapid period of change - important to note and refresh strategic priorities. Would be helpful to find out what many organizations are thinking.

Community Conversations will not be the only process for receiving input - complementary overlap with budget, partnerships, etc. Look at all efforts to gather input and channel together. An example is the County's comprehensive plan which had five levels of involvement.

Arlene Silveira indicated she will take all comments into consideration and come back to the committee with suggested next steps.

5. MMSD Communications to the Community during a MMSD Crisis

(Written information provided - Infinite Campus, Campus Messenger - Deliver E-mail and Voice Messages - attached to the original copy of these minutes.)

Ken Syke explained the Campus Messenger feature of the Infinite Campus student information system. He noted district staff are still learning about available features but have used it several times this fall to notify parents when students have been evacuated from a school. The system can be applied to all schools, or a select group. There has been generally positive feedback. Problems have been or are being addressed, such as narrowing down the number of calls, particularly within a family. Art Rainwater added that there is instant communication; sometimes the community and families know about a situation at a school before administration does. Parents may already know about the situation; it is important to get periodic, concise, and accurate information out. This system holds tremendous potential.

It was suggested a scroll of information (time-stamped) be included on the district's cable channel and on the web site. There is an audience that does not receive e-mail or phone calls on a timely basis. Alerting radio stations was also suggested. Ken Syke noted that generally, in a crisis, there is no time to alert radio stations, but there may be a general press release. Mary Gulbrandsen added the Security Office follows a protocol of notification that includes these steps.

Other suggestions were to use a number of mediums to communicate, to include instructions about what parents are able to do (e.g., pick up their children), and to develop a district portal that includes all types of information. Such a portal, or blog, could be used by the community to find a variety of information as well as to learn what to do in a particular emergency and to serve as a community feedback site.

6. Presentation of Information to the Community about How Best to Make Information Available to the Community

(Written materials provided - Sample from web site of San Francisco Education Fund - attached to the original copy of these minutes.)

There was discussion about developing some kind of portal where families and community could get all types of information about the school district. It could also be a place for receiving community input and for finding out about the items Board committees are working on. Art Rainwater responded this could be explored, noting the district has technical capabilities but not the staffing to organize information and keep it current.


Ken Syke will investigate possible communication venues, balancing providing information and staffing issues.

It was suggested that it would be interesting, at a future meeting, for the committee to tour the district's web site.

7. Other Business

There was no other business.

8. Adjournment

It was moved by Lucy Mathiak and seconded by Tim Saterfield to adjourn the meeting at 6 p.m. Motion unanimously carried.