Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, Wisconsin

Art Rainwater, Superintendent
Minutes for Communications
December 10, 2007
Doyle Administration Building
545 West Dayton Street, Auditorium
Madison, Wisconsin

Communications Committee meeting was called to order by Chair Beth Moss at 4:45 p.m.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Board Members Beth Moss, Carol Carstensen, Lawrie Kobza

Citizen Members Deb Anken-Dyer, Deb Gurke, Dale Holmen and

Wayne Strong


OTHER BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Lucy Mathiak, Arlene Silveira


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

1. Approval of Minutes

It was moved by Carol Carstensen and seconded by Dale Holmen to approve the minutes of the Communications Committee meeting dated November 5, 2007 as distributed. Motion unanimously carried.

2. Public Appearances

There were no public appearances.

3. Announcements

There were no announcements.

4. Initiatives of the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools

(Written materials provided in advance: WAES Core Principles. Written materials distributed at the meeting: Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools 2008 Estimated Budget. Copies are attached to the original of these minutes.)

Beth Moss introduced State Representative Sondy Pope-Roberts and asked her to speak about her relationship and history with the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES). Representative Pope-Roberts indicated she began championing the idea of a new school funding formula when she was the legislative director for the Wisconsin State Parent/Teacher Association - before revenue caps and before the Qualified Economic Offer. Her reason for supporting WAES is that it is the most active group doing this work, the most correct, and it has the largest network/membership. She made the following points.

Without the WAES network, a solution will not be found. Legislators lack political will to get the job done. In private, they agree the funding system is broken and probably needs more money to be fixed. May mean fair, not necessarily new, taxes. Because the current funding system relies so heavily on property taxes, many people believe those taxes would go up. Many funding plans have been introduced and discussed, but all are gone. It is time that legislators are forced by the public to address the problem.

Does not support the WAES funding formula exactly as it is. Hopefully, the solution will be a compilation of bi-partisan best ideas. Support core concept of providing relief for property taxpayers and meeting requirements for educating children.

Sense a willingness on the part of the legislature to address the issue of school funding, in part because of ll/8 and pressure from school districts.

Urged the Board to be more visionary than the legislature (influenced by two- and four-year terms) and look for a long-term solution. Madison, as a larger district, could take the lead and help other districts and organizations understand the need to fix the problem.

Membership cost is determined by district size. The district will have a vote on the make-up of the Board of Directors. Adequacy plan is only one part of joining; strength is in reaching smaller districts, rural areas, spreading understanding that something can be done and making those changes happen.


Membership in WAES does not dovetail with the Wisconsin Way Initiative.

Issue is to focus on core principles and to get the legislature to do something, as long as it supports adequate funding. Safer to go to legislature without complicated plans. Important that the group continue - only state-wide organization talking about state funding and building grassroots support for change. District has been a member in the past; change is that it would be dues-paying.

District lobbyist needs to focus on Madison issues. Need the state-wide network connection.

It was moved by Deb Anken-Dyer and seconded by Wayne Strong to recommend to the Board of Education payment of membership dues for the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools and continued support of their state-wide efforts. Motion unanimously carried.

5. Formats for Future Board of Education Public Forums

(Written materials provided in advance: Memorandum from Beth Moss re: Committee Meeting December 10 (undated) - attached to the original of these minutes.)

Beth Moss reported that she and Deb Gurke met with Diedre Atkinson and Kathy Hubbard of the United Way who agreed to assist by providing ideas about various formats for forums. As a first step, they asked that the committee identify reasons for holding the forum. There are many different ways of engaging the public; this information would narrow and help determine a good format match. They supported structured questions and the process, rather than the topic, needs to be specific and have boundaries. Ms. Moss noted the Board of Education has been approached by several groups asking for interaction with the full Board. She felt it would be helpful to be proactive and ask the public to be engaged so that the public would not feel the need to approach the Board about holding meetings. She will take the information generated and meet again with the United Way staff about the best ways to engage the most people from the most diverse groups.

Responses generated in answer to the question: Around what issues coming up in the next two to three years would it be good to engage the public?

High school redesign

Budget priorities and process, long term

Attendance - why children are not coming to school

Student achievement - ways to narrow the achievement gap

Suspensions, expulsions - students cannot learn if they are not in school

Priorities, Strategic Plan


Board is elected to make decisions about balancing spending for all students, not just for the loudest advocates. Cannot underestimate the role of the Board to protect all children. No easy way to talk about cuts.

Supports the need for a cross-section of ideas, look at the big picture, help people to understand.

Important for community to understand how complex the budget is, how many components, how important they are. When difficult decisions are made, public understands at least that they were not easy decisions.

Hear comment in other places as well (e.g., WASB) that people feel no opportunity for discussion, dialog in a formal setting. Addressing the question, what does good communication look like, addresses bigger problem rather than symptoms. Trust or communication - there is a mismatch being called poor communication.

Board already spends many hours. Is there a better, more effective way. Do people want to meet with the whole Board because there is a lack of trust? To what extent is frustration because of e-mail; telephone conversation at least provided opportunity for response.

There is not one "community"; many individuals looking for their own answer.

Deliberative polling requires investment in developing a random sample; possible way of getting a picture of what the community thinks.

Poll does not equal good communication; knowing viewpoint is different than good communication.

May be good study to ask Madison community what they think good communication is; could help guide future.

Need to focus on common issues, examine them from a more global view.

Topic should be suggested by the Board of Education; bring suggestions to this committee.

Public frustrated with three-minute public appearances with no opportunity for response or interaction. Not productive use of time. Looking at a different setting, with exchange of information. Board is also frustrated. Have already made a decision and stated why; not much to talk about.

Beth Moss indicated she would ask Board members to suggest three topics about which they would be interested in receiving public input.

6. Other Business

There was no other business.

7. Adjournment

It was moved by Wayne Strong and seconded by Deb Gurke to adjourn the meeting at 5:47 p.m. Motion unanimously carried.