Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, Wisconsin

Art Rainwater, Superintendent
Minutes for Communications
January 9, 2007
Doyle Administration Building
545 West Dayton Street, Room 103
Madison, Wisconsin

Communications Committee meeting was called to order by Arlene Silveira at 8:04 a.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, Lawrie Kobza, Johnny Winston, Jr.


LEGISLATORS PRESENT: Senators Mike Miller and Fred Risser, Representatives Therese Berceau, Spencer Black, Joseph Parisi, Mark Pocan

STAFF PRESENT: Sue Abplanalp, Joe Quick, Pam Nash, Roger Price, Art Rainwater, Ken Syke, Ann Wilson-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 meeting dated November 27, 2006. Motion unanimously carried.

2. Public Appearances

There were no public appearances.

3. Announcements

There were no announcements.

4. 2007-2009 Legislative Agenda

(Written materials provided at the meeting: 2007-09 Legislative Agenda - attached to the original copy of these minutes.)

Lucy Mathiak indicated concern that the Board of Education had not voted on all of the items included in the Legislative Agenda. Arlene Silveira and Joe Quick identified those items that they believed had been voted on; others are long-standing or identified issues. All items will be discussed as though they are issues the Board is seeking input on or would like to provide feedback to legislators.

a. Work to create a school finance system that defines that resources are necessary to provide students with a "sound basic education." Using Wisconsin's Academic Standards (which is the standard of achievement set by the Legislature), coupled with proven research that lays out what is necessary to achieve those standards, will more clearly define what programs and services are required to students to attain success.

Art Rainwater identified this as the single largest concern of the district and the state. The cause of the problem is the revenue cap. He asked legislators to truly look at school finance and creating a system to provide the resources to meet the standards the Legislature has set. The district is in support of using proven research and supports the principles behind the Allen Odden study. The resources to meet the standards need to be provided, or the standards need to be changed. This is also the position of superintendents across the state. If not provided, there will be dire consequences. Joe Quick added that this is an issue universal to districts across the state, not just Madison. The focus of discussion needs to change to standards and the resources to meet them.


(T. Berceau) Most recently, the Governor indicated he would stand by the revenue caps. There needs to be a very good discussion with the Governor, who wants to make education his legacy. Needs to be an understanding there.

(M. Pocan) Is this a unified issue? Has to be a single message, in unified voice, over and over again. If not unified, will go in different directions. (J. Quick, A. Rainwater, C. Carstensen) Superintendents are in agreement and recognize the issue. There is need to change the political framework - all of the education community needs to work together to do that. The beginnings are there for broad support in the education community - the state administrators association, Wisconsin Association of School Boards, the ongoing Odden research, Wisconsin Association of Excellent Schools.

(R. Robarts) Need discussion with the Governor about the differences between two issues (QEO and revenue cap). QEO is a non-issue for us and other districts; have worked around it. Revenue caps put local school districts on a totally different footing than any other entity. What used to be a "twin slogan" (QEO and revenue caps) has much less meaning today. Arriving at a budget through the referendum process year after year is a substantial burden.

(M. Pocan) Not sure yet where budget hearings will be held, usually occur in March. Hope they will be scheduled in urban areas.

(L. Mathiak) Will appropriate education committees be taking up these issues about school finance, or will it just be in the Budget committee? (M. Pocan) Representative Pope has been looking at school funding issues. There are ranking Democrats on Education and Education Reform Committees. It could be talked about at those committees; would give additional profile to the issues. Problem in the past has been getting a unified message from school districts. (T. Berceau) Committees do have a role in the budget process, although not a formal one. Optional; does not mean Joint Finance would take recommendations.

(L. Mathiak) Looking for opportunities to shed light on concerns and needs. (A. Silveira) In Madison, have strong community that wants to help, is more aware of revenue cap issue; presents an opportunity to empower these people to become involved and share message.

(S. Black) There would be substantial progress if the educational establishment was unified. Each "factor" has been more concerned about their individual needs. Maybe revenue caps are getting to the point of being big enough for everyone's support. Has a proposal ready to submit. The priority will be to get as much support as possible and then push hard. (A. Rainwater) There are efforts underway to do that. There are now only a very small number of districts that are not affected. Have been meetings among major education organizations, facilitated by UW Dean Julie Underwood, to reach common ground. One disadvantage is that all our legislators are in agreement and support this issue; need to influence other legislators. Thought that pressure to change the revenue caps would be so great in the state that it would be changed by Republicans, but that did not happen.

(R. Robarts) Is the suggestion to choose one big issue and work with legislators? (S. Black) All issues are important, but should pick one. That one needs priority, unity, common ground. (F. Risser) Should zero in, select priority; others are secondary. Present clearly what happens under revenue caps. Explain to general public how it affects children. Absolutely necessary to have a unified position. (J. Parisi) Should be a two pronged approach - illustrate what will happen to schools, identify funding mechanism. Funding cannot be ignored. Some ideas have been proposed.

(L. Mathiak) Also important to emphasize proposals for economic growth and public education? (J. Parisi) Investing in infrastructure results in better schools. (T. Berceau) Big roadblock to school finance change is WMC. Organized front needs to discuss education and the workforce with them. Need to get off mantra of taxes; they may listen to school districts. More important to lobby there than with legislators. (J. Quick) Trying to keep the coalitions alive that fought for the district re: TABOR and divert to tax and school finance issues; are in the early stages of getting this group fighting for tax fairness.

b. Other Issues

Exceeding revenue limits for security-related expenses - (J. Quick) Frees up some funding and allows the district to expand security measures. (S. Black) Will introduce a Senate bill as well. (J. Parisi) Would be helpful for school security director to talk with legislators about what this means for schools.

Modify the school aid formula so negative tertiary school district taxpayers aren't penalized when the district borrows. (J. Quick) Difficult enough to go to referendum without having to deal with this penalty. Has been discussion in Luther Olson's Legislative Council study. Not sure if there will be a recommendation.

Improve Medicaid Reimbursement from state to school districts (current law allows 40% state skim). (J. Quick) Continues to be an issue; other states take less (Illinois $10%). (M. Pocan) May be an area where cigarette tax wealth can be shared.

Revenue Limits and State and Federal Mandates. (J. Quick) The last page of the written materials illustrates these as universal issues. Represents first draw on the budget, exacerbates the revenue limit issues. Bottom line - can anything be done to help pay under funded mandates? (M. Miller) Opportunities now are broader for reform. How we fund our schools is the most important issue to address. Are just about at the tipping point as can be seen in Legislative Council study. Support a unified message, but also appreciate details about other issues that need attention/reform; presents an opportunity to explore them. Legislation has been introduced that provided exemptions in the areas of health care, school safety, energy costs. Revenue caps have been sacrosanct.

State Aid Reimbursement for Four-Year-Old Kindergarten. (J. Quick, A. Rainwater) Madison told it must offer universal program if implemented. Asking to be treated the same way that a Milwaukee choice or charter school would be treated. Have been working with child care community and embraced DPI model. Why would a public school not be treated in the same way as a choice or charter school? Program is self-supporting after the third year, but can't find the funding to begin. (T. Berceau) Needs explanation to the taxpayer. When surveyed, does not get high support. Public needs to understand the cost issue.

In the interest of time, Joe Quick very briefly highlighted other issues included in the written materials - state aid for public transportation costs, allowing a declining enrollment district to use the highest enrollment in a five-year (instead of three-year) period for purposes of calculating its revenue limit, maintaining Common School Fund resources, and support for school breakfast programs.


School security coordinator talk with legislators about the benefits to schools of exceeding revenue limits for security-related expenses.

5. Clarification of Wis. Statute Section 118.24(1) - Employees the Board Must Offer Contracts To

(Written materials provided in advance: Statute 118.24 General School Operations - attached to the original copy of these minutes.)

The Board of Education requests a clarification by the Legislative Council of the first paragraph of 118.24. The paragraph states, "A school board may employ a school district administrator, a business manager and school principals and assistants to such persons. The term of each employment contract may not exceed two years. A contract for a term of two years may provide for one or more extensions of one year each." The specific question is the identification of assistants to such persons. Representative Berceau and Senator Risser indicated that would ask for such clarification. Senator Risser asked that the request be directed to him in writing.


Submit in writing to Senator Risser the specific clarification sought for Wis. Statute Section 118.24(1).

6. Other Business

There was no other business.

7. Adjournment

It was moved by Ruth Robarts and seconded by Lucy Mathiak to adjourn the meeting at 8:55 a.m. Motion unanimously carried.