Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, Wisconsin

Art Rainwater, Superintendent
Minutes for Legislative
December 6, 2004
Doyle Administration Building
545 West Dayton Street, Room 103
Madison, Wisconsin

Legislative Committee meeting was called to order by Chair Shwaw Vang at 11:35 a.m.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Board Members Carol Carstensen, Shwaw Vang

Citizen Members Erica Rosch and Tim Saterfield

MEMBERS ABSENT: Board Member Bill Clingan

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Bill Keys, Student Representative Oliver Kiefer

STAFF PRESENT: Roger Price, Joe Quick, Art Rainwater, Barbara Lehman-Recording Secretary

LEGISLATORS PRESENT: Rep. Terese Berceau, Rep. Spencer Black, Rep. Mark Pocan, Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, Rep. Joe Parisi, Sen. Fred Risser

1. Approval of Minutes

It was moved by Carol Carstensen and seconded by Shwaw Vang to approve the minutes of the Legislative Committee meeting dated July 12, 2004 with a correction to Ms. Laughlin's last name. Minutes as corrected were approved by the unanimous consent of those present.

2. Public Appearances

There were no public appearances.

3. Announcements

There were no announcements.

4. Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Student Academic Achievement Update

a. Third Grade Reading Test Scores/Results

The Superintendent reported that the district has made a lot of progress on student achievement on the three goals adopted by the board in 1998. The gap has been completely eliminated in reading in the lowest category. Everyone is at five percent or below and no statistical difference exists on anything. The district has made continuing progress across all races in the "proficient" and "advanced" categories. This past year the gap was eliminated for middle income students. There was a gap in all four groups of low income African American, middle income African American and low income white and middle income white. This past year the gap was eliminated completely. There is no difference for middle income students. What is left is low income. There is still a gap but now it is a very small group that can be targeted more clearly

b. 69 National Merit Scholar Semifinalists

The Superintendent noted that the district has a record with 69 semifinalists in a district that should expect about 10. The record has increased every year for five years. The district is trying to provide for the needs of all the children. The goal of mathematics has been difficult; slow progress is being made. All high school coursework that was not algebra was eliminated and the teachers were re-taught. One of the biggest handicaps is for people to overcome the psychological stigma of "not being able to do math." It cannot be acceptable and is one of the key components in today's world. He thanked the legislators for the SAGE program and noted its critical importance in contributing to student success. Mr. Vang reminded people about the annual district report card.

5. MMSD Collaborative Activities

a. Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR)

Joe Quick stated that the education community is well represented but he is working to get local elected officials, parents, human service providers, and a wide variety of those kinds of groups to be the district's messenger. News conferences have been held and meetings with the Editorial Boards. He thought the newspapers understood, with the help of the district, the damage that TABOR could do. He would be meeting next week with the new legislators.

b. Medicaid Reimbursement to the MMSD

Mr. Quick reported that work is being done with the governor's office to hopefully make a change in the budget.

c. "Walk on the Child Side" Rally at the Capitol

Mr. Quick reported that it was a cold and rainy day but there was a collaborative effort with rural districts in the northern part of the state, 100 MTI people, and other people from Madison joined the walk.

d. Dane County School Funding Forum

Ms. Carstensen reported that forums are being organized around the state to look at school finance issues and build support. Legislators will be invited to attend the Dane County forum on January 12 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Monona Grove High School to talk about county and state wide issues.

e. Dane County School District Youth Apprenticeship Program

Mr. Quick reported that the district has about 10-30 students per year taking advantage of this opportunity for high school students to get into the technical world. Many of the students get a certification in a one- or two-year program. The program was started in 1994 and cost about $3,000 per student and now averages about $1200-$1400 per pupil with the efficiency gained in the consortium.

f. Agreement between the Oregon School District and the MMSD to Provide Adequate Library Services

Roger Price reported that the district has not experienced a huge cost savings but it provides an efficient way to catalog all books that come into the district. All cataloging is now done electronically. There are continuing efforts to find ways to share resources with a number of other school districts.

The legislators were asked what they were seeing.

Discussion: Keeping advanced placement and talent and gifted programming. Confirmed that the district does track the number of students in private schools and the transfers; the district is not experiencing an increase or a trend. There is no exit questionnaire for those who choose to transfer to private school. The only increase in seats has been Country Day School but it is not big. There is no umbrella organization against TABOR but there is a three-point bullet message that it is not in the Constitution, it is bad fiscal policy, and if cuts are made, the tax system would have to be reexamined. The independent groups have been working for one year and more groups have come on board. All the organizations have the same message.

6. 2005-07 State Legislative Session Issues


b. Property Tax Freeze

c. 2005-07 Biennial Budget

Mr. Quick asked the legislators what could be expected and how the district could support these issues. Written materials on TABOR and other legislative issues were distributed (copies are attached to the original of these minutes).

Discussion: Meetings with the governor have been sorely disappointing; he plans to focus on four-year-old kindergarten and increase statewide breakfast programs. Task Force recommendations are not a big issue. No increase in SAGE but not losing ground either. One of the legislators asked the governor's office to direct that a bill be drafted to address school funding and the inadequacies but not real hopeful. All three issues are tied together and there probably will be some push for some version of TABOR. The legislators thought it would be very helpful to form a coalition of public services bringing all the interests together in regular meetings and developing a common theme to let the public know which services would be cut and other cuts that are likely to take place if TABOR passes. Editorial Boards have less effect than in the past. The deficit of $1.5 billion is much deeper than was thought one month ago. Very hard to imagine any additional funding. Probably will not see deep cuts in k-12 education. Would not be surprised if TABOR becomes a property tax freeze. The democrats are probably looking at other funding sources.

Discussion continued: There are not many days for discussion. Interest groups have to be ready to move fast. Could be part of the budget discussion. Troubled republican districts should be identified and negotiations begun to make people see that helping Madison is also helping them. Governor's office should know they are hurting themselves. Cut for Madison would be $16-$18 million with a tax freeze and $6 $7 million again for the next budget. The district is preparing the budget based on current law believing that is the best case scenario. Madison already serves breakfast across the board. There was some discussion about what the proposal from DPI contains for four-year-old kindergarten. It would not be practical for the MMSD to cut $4 million to finance it. The Milwaukee a choice program gets to count every child and gets a .5 FTE reimbursement, which everyone gets, but if started in Milwaukee, they will get reimbursement and we get 1/3. School choice is an $80 million program with minimal accountability.

It was asked what the budget issues will be.

Discussion: How big the hole is, funding formula issues, working on campaign. Probably will not be way different. Improved caucus; better prepared for veto overrides. Republicans will not cross over. Hope school funding will be substantiated.

It was asked what the democrats will fashion to deal with the property tax issue.

Discussion: More formal progressive group that will speak out. Think the whole thing has to change. Level of funding for public services; will the slack be taken up. Have to change whole debate about how things are funded. Very inequitable system. Examples of what is going to be used to build community understanding would be helpful. Will talk about homeowners' tax break proposal. The governor will lead the charge on property taxes but not sure where the funding will come from; will be better than what has been proposed so far. The governor will probably ask for an extension again. Could pick up close to $100 million in income tax index moratorium on the decrease in taxes.

FOLLOW UP: Might be worthwhile to invite the legislators back once the budget is out and let them know what is good and bad.

7. Local Control Resolution

(Packets included a proposed resolution. A copy is attached to the original of these minutes.)

It was moved by Carol Carstensen and seconded by Erica Laughlin that the MMSD Board of Education, in concert with other school districts across the state, request hat the Wisconsin State Legislature return local control to school districts by repealing the September 1 start date and implementing changes to the state funding structure. Changes should allow flexibility with items including, but not limited to, revenue caps and the Qualified Economic Offer ensuring that every child continues to receive a quality public education according to the wishes and needs of each school district.

Discussion: Other school districts contacted Madison to ask that they adopt a similar resolution and join the fight.

Shwaw Vang made a friendly amendment to add a closing sentence that the state provide funding for special education and English as a Second Language.

Discussion: When revenue limits started the state reimbursement rate was 45 percent and is now less than 30 percent. ESL is only 11 cents on the dollar. Already seeing the conflicts between regular education parents vs. special education parents. Next time the district cuts something look at sports; that will get public attention.

Motion as amended carried unanimously with Bill Clingan absent.

8. Other Business

There was no other business.

9. Adjournment

It was moved by Tim Saterfield and seconded by Carol Carstensen to adjourn the meeting at 12:40 p.m. Motion unanimously carried by those present.