Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, Wisconsin

Art Rainwater, Superintendent
Minutes for Communications
July 23, 2007
Doyle Administration Building
545 West Dayton Street, Auditorium
Madison, Wisconsin

Communications Committee meeting was called to order by Chair Beth Moss at 5:05 p.m.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Board Members: Lawrie Kobza and Beth Moss

Citizen Members: Deb Gurke and Wayne Strong

MEMBERS ABSENT: Board Member Carol Carstensen



STAFF PRESENT: Sue Abplanalp, Steve Hartley, Pam Nash, Joe Quick, Art Rainwater, Marcia Standiford, Ken Syke, Ann Wilson-Recording Secretary

1. Approval of Minutes

It was moved by Lawrie Kobza and seconded by Deb Gurke to approve the minutes of the Communications Committee meeting dated July 9, 2007 as distributed. Beth Moss asked that under #4 - Goals for the Communications Committee..., in the third paragraph, "student/family communication" be changed to student/family/school communication. The motion with the correction was unanimously carried by those present.

2. Public Appearances

There were no public appearances.

3. Announcements

Beth Moss announced that there are two vacancies for citizen members on this committee. Information is available on the web site and has been printed in the newspaper. The deadline for application is July 31, 2007.

4. State Legislative Update

(Written materials provided in advance: Memorandum from Joe Quick re: Key K-12 Budget Provisions for Madison Schools; Comparison of 2007-09 Biennial Budget- attached to the original copy of these minutes.)

Joe Quick stated it is difficult to assess progress of the budget Conference Committee which has not yet begun its work. He reviewed key K-12 budget provisions for the school district (provided in written form), highlighting those most important for the school district. Most of his contacts/colleagues believe the committee will not conclude its work until September or October. He noted there have not been many times when the Conference Committee has met with divided Houses. Although far apart in many areas, he does not sense the personal animosity or partisan rancor among committee members this time. The K-12 budget was taken up at the end of the committee's discussion last time. When the Finance Committee met, they took it up earlier; hopefully the Conference Committee will follow suit.

5. Report on Referenda in Comparable Wisconsin School Districts

(Written materials provided in advance: Referenda for operating expenses in districts with 10,000+ students occurring within the past three years; a Report on Referenda in the State of Wisconsin; Custom Referenda Reports request page from DPI website - attached to the original copy of these minutes.)

Beth Moss reviewed written materials she provided that include her summary of previous discussion and ideas about parameters for a report on referenda in the State of Wisconsin. She included information about referenda in districts with 10,000 or more students and referenda that exceed revenue limits by $5 million or more and used that data to answer questions and pose some additional questions.


Would be useful to know, of those referenda passed, the dollar amounts, percentage of total budget - magnitude in comparison with the MMSD's budget as a whole.

Some districts asked for funding for a specific purpose, like technology upgrades or curriculum acquisition. Lowering class size would be the example for our district.

Some are individual to the district, reflect priorities of that community.

Interesting to know what questions failed as well as those that were successful.

Another factor is how much state aid districts receive.

Some questions request funding over several years. Questions need to be clear.

Beth Moss indicated she would contact Board members in other districts. Suggestions were made about the questions that could be asked:

How community input was solicited, marketing, analyzing why it may have failed or why it was a success.

Was there organized opposition?

Was there a strong parent group?

Was the board's decision unanimous?

It was agreed that the number of questions posed to other districts be limited and that the required response time be short. Beth Moss reminded members that the original intent was to find out about citizen input in other districts, so that should be the most important question to ask.


Focus on successful referenda; have experience ourselves with those that failed. Focus on questions of an operating budget nature.

For referenda that failed, and then were retried and successful - what made the difference?

It was agreed that six districts would be contacted. Beth Moss indicated her willingness to make the calls. She will speak with the Board President when possible who can speak for the Board or the majority of the Board.

6. Goals for the Communications Committee for 2007-08

(Written materials provided in advance: Using Deliberative Polling to Gather Citizen Input in the MMSD by Deb Gurke; additional information about random selection and the deliberative process; Article from the LaCrosse Tribune, "Area schools making sales pitch to attract more students.")

Beth Moss indicated she would prefer to wait to finalize the goals for the committee until the Citizen Member vacancies have been filled. Suggestions were to include continued discussion of gathering community input, including Community Conversations and deliberative polling as the goals are being finalized. Deb Gurke provided additional information about the deliberative polling process.

Beth Moss gave an update on planning for a fall meeting, the Sondy Pope-Roberts resolution, and other meetings. She noted Joe Quick has contacted Jim Wood of Wood Communications who will give a presentation on the Wisconsin Way Initiative. The committee will also continue to work on and hopes to finalize soon a plan for student/family/school communication.

7. Other Business

There was no other business.

8. Adjournment

It was moved by Lawrie Kobza and seconded by Deb Gurke to adjourn the meeting at 6:13 p.m. Motion unanimously carried by those present.