Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, Wisconsin

Art Rainwater, Superintendent
Minutes for Communications
February 26, 2007
Doyle Administration Building
545 West Dayton Street, Auditorium
Madison, Wisconsin

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

MEMBERS PRESENT: Board Members: Arlene Silveira, Lucy Mathiak

Citizen Members: Deb Gurke, Wayne Strong

MEMBERS ABSENT: Board Member Ruth Robarts and Citizen Member Tim Saterfield

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


STAFF PRESENT: Mary Gulbrandsen, Steve Hartley, Pam Nash, Roger Price, Joe Quick, Art Rainwater, Marcia Standiford, Ken Syke, Ann Wilson-Recording Secretary

1. Approval of Minutes

It was moved by Lucy Mathiak and seconded by Wayne Strong to approve the minutes of the Communications Committee meeting dated January 16, 2007. Motion unanimously carried by those present.

2. Public Appearances

There were no public appearances.

3. Announcements

There were no announcements.

4. MMSD Legislative Agenda

(Written materials provided in advance: 2007-09 Legislative Agenda dated February 26, 2007 - attached to the original of these minutes.)

Arlene Silveira reviewed the suggestions made at the last meeting to revise the 2007-2009 Legislative Agenda so that items are clustered to focus on the main goals. Joe Quick explained the organization of the Agenda as it was presented at this meeting. There are two main legislative goals, with others listed under the heading, "Stopgap Relief." The first of the two legislative goals was revised to read, "Work to create a school finance system that provides the necessary resources to guarantee that every student meets the Wisconsin Academic Standards, the standard of achievement set by the Legislature."

It was moved by Lucy Mathiak and seconded by Wayne Strong to approve the 2007-2009 Legislative Agenda as presented and revised at this meeting. Motion unanimously carried by those present.

5. Analysis of the Governor's Proposed State Budget

(Written materials provided in advance: Memorandum from Joe Quick and Roger Price dated 2/15/07 re: Governor's Budget Recommendations-Impact on MMSD with attached Department of Public Instruction summary of the Governor's Budget Recommendations pages 371-390 - attached to the original of these minutes.)

Joe Quick noted that there has been a brief discussion of the Governor's proposed state budget with the Finance and Operations Committee and that today's agenda is to provide a little more detail. He noted the written materials provided and focused on the major points.


Special Education categorical aid increase and the SAGE funding increase - Feel confident these will remain in the package since they are of importance to all districts across the state. These two plus bilingual aid are of most importance to this district. Other items have minimal or no impact state-wide. These projects might be deleted or combined with others as work goes forward on the budget.

Elimination of the QEO was also introduced in the last state budget and is one identified as more policy than fiscal in the last budget. Believe it will become a "bargaining chip" in Joint Finance Committee discussion. It is a key issue for lobbyist colleagues - high on their list of importance.

Elimination of the QEO changes the rules of arbitration. Takes away the emphasis on a district's ability to pay and gives all factors equal weight. Also removes requirement to bargain all teacher contracts in the state at the same time.

The declining enrollment exemption increase is more of a state-wide issue; one time occurrence.

The school safety revenue limit exemption is for police officers only, for high schools only, and the municipality (also under revenue limits) has to share 50/50 cost. Would be difficult for police department; excludes elementary and middle schools. Fairly widespread support to modify this, expand more along the lines of the Spencer Black proposal.

Mentoring of initial educators exemptions could fund the amount expended by the district.

Joe Quick noted that many of these items will be discussed at the WASB Day at the Capitol seminar on March 14.

6. Planning for a Public Information Meeting in which citizens will be invited who are interested in advocating for items that would be beneficial to the district relative to: a) the proposals in the Governor's proposed state budget; and b) proposals related to changes in the school district funding legislation

Arlene Silveira recapped discussion from the last meeting about ways to involve citizens in the state budget and legislative funding process. She noted a number of meetings have been held on the east side related to the long range planning process. During those meetings, citizens have indicated their readiness and willingness to become involved in advocating for school funding changes. Ken Syke noted the date for the public information meeting has been set for March 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the Doyle auditorium.


Need to explain in simple terms, no jargon, how the state and local funding system works. Give overview of the Governor's budget and explain how it ties to the district legislative agenda.

Have some materials in place - short video about school funding, revenue cap gap, and QEO would be good starting points; recent Wisconsin State Journal series about school funding reinforced the state-wide nature of the issue.

Need general talking points - what to say and who to tell. Identify legislators and how to contact them. Recommend effective strategies in a simple, straightforward way.

Important that Madison legislators hear from constituents as well. Best way is to meet face-to-face, small groups, telephone. Legislators remember personal contact best.

Long-term plan might be for groups of parents to connect with parents from neighboring districts, maybe those with failed referenda, and meet with legislators for their areas - perhaps Wisconsin Heights. Talk about how school district "hands are tied" if they cannot pass a referendum. Could be a plan for March.

Joe Quick indicated he had planned to develop a one-page handout for the informational meeting on March 21 which will include "talking points" and contact information for the Madison legislative delegation and members of the Joint Finance Committee. Hopefully, there will be volunteers at that meeting who will continue to work on more long-term projects. He emphasized again that the message to legislators is stronger when more people are saying the same thing.

Deb Gurke suggested meeting in a location other than the auditorium at Doyle, thinking the auditorium is not conducive to interaction and small groups.

Lucy Mathiak was concerned about the timeline and what the committee will be able to accomplish with its current membership; there are only two more meetings until the next Board is in place.


The primary concern of the committee could be the Governor's Budget, which will be approved in July or August. Groups could begin their work and then continue past the life of the current committee.

There are tasks that could be accomplished now, such as sending e-mails and using forms for communication that would be of value. Provide guidelines/talking points, contacts, key timelines, sample letters. Can also lay groundwork for long-term work/goals.

Way to enlist people, get them into the habit of being involved. Build on that for more long-term advocacy.

Use the website to post a key budget message and contact information.

Work with legislative aides.

Information would be easier to understand in visual form, like bar graphs.

Joe Quick indicated he can provide a sample form/letter to legislators and noted ways in which the meeting will be advertised (website, district lists, Board member lists, district cable stations, etc.) Arlene Silveira summarized the suggestions for the public meeting: provide a simple presentation on state funding and an overview of the Governor's budget; provide information about advocacy including contact people, talking points, timeline; include information on the website; focus on short-term issues; the initial focus for the next couple of months is the Governor's budget. The location of the meeting will be changed, perhaps to Wright Middle School.

7. Other Business

There was no other business.

8. Adjournment

It was moved by Lucy Mathiak and seconded by Deb Gurke to adjourn the meeting at 5:58 p.m. Motion unanimously carried by those present.