Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, Wisconsin

Art Rainwater, Superintendent
Minutes for Long Range Planning
February 24, 2003
Doyle Administration Building
545 West Dayton Street, Room 103
Madison, Wisconsin

The meeting of the Long Range Planning Committee was called to order by Chair Ruth Robarts at 5:06 p.m.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Carol Carstensen, Juan José López, Ruth Robarts


STAFF PRESENT: Jane Belmore, Valencia Douglas, Mary Gulbrandsen, Frank Kelly, Doug Pearson, Joe Quick, Roger Price, Art Rainwater, Barbara Lehman-Recording Secretary

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Bill Clingan, Bill Keys, Shwaw Vang

  1. Approval of Minutes

    It was moved by Carol Carstensen and seconded by Juan José López that the minutes of the Long Range Planning Committee dated January 27, 2003 be approved as distributed. Motion unanimously carried.

  2. Public Appearances

    Ralph Holmes asked that a policy be created that will insure a proper lunch period for elementary students. He gave some survey results which indicated that most of the respondents did not think the lunch period was long enough and that it should be in the 20- to 30-minute range. He indicated that not a lot of extra time would be needed to satisfy the parents. Staff did survey the principals in the elementary schools and most said they do not want a longer one. He added that an association of principals and the NSBA supports the policy of having 20 minutes after the last child is seated.

    There was some discussion on having to require that all students stay seated for the full 20 minutes. The speaker responded that staff would know best how to handle the dismissal of the kids. If a number are finished early, rather than waiting, they could be dismissed. The time should be there and currently it is not. Principals are allowing some kids to stay late. Some are having recess first. The district is already at the minimum lunch time. It was clarified that the second best option in Mr. Holmes' e-mail taking 10 minutes off at the end of the day does violate the existing teacher contract. It was acceptable to a majority of parents to bring outer clothing into the lunchroom rather than having less time for lunch. The parents do not want loss of instructional time; rather the more instructional time the better. In the past, lunch was not served at school and the kids went home. The school district had to put parameters around the time required by DPI. The number of minutes was decided by staying within the DPI requirements and making it as consistent as possible for all the elementary schools.

    Kris Grutzner noticed a change in the lunch room and that staff are concerned about the time. She distributed an article from The New York Times in which lunch menus from five different countries were compared with those of the United States (a copy of the article is attached to the original of these minutes). A sample of what was served that day at the MMSD elementary schools for lunch was given to each of the Board members consisting of a hot pretzel with cheese sauce. She stated that tomorrow was pizza day which is very popular. The lines are long and there is an even shorter time to eat. She invited the Board members and the media to see what pizza day is like. She stated that the system is failing.

    There was some discussion about what else was included in the lunches (yogurt, raisins and sunflower seeds). The parent stated that the cheese was not good and the pretzel was not nutritious. Someone polled 25 sixth graders about whether they thought the lunch period was long enough and they did not. The allotted lunch time is an issue in some ways but not with all kids. There is the added issue of what priority lunch should be given in view of the budgetary issues. The speaker asked how many comments the Board has received since the last meeting and how many were happy versus those who want it changed. There was no count but comments have been heard over a period of years about the quality and time for lunch.

    Bill Rettig, district librarian and who works every lunch day at Huegel Elementary School, stated that with a limited time between classes, staff would rather do anything else. It is a hard job for the staff but people do their best. The time frames are really difficult for the children. He did not see adding money for a longer lunch period in view of the upcoming budget cuts. Breakfast is the same thing, but that is the reality. He did not want deep cuts that would hurt education. He wants to get a referendum passed. He asked that the proposed cuts to the budget be put out publicly right away instead of waiting until mid-May.

    Ms. Carstensen responded that a lot would be done up front. Public forums have been scheduled in late February and March on Thursday evenings where questions would be asked of the public about what happens if things are changed. The Board will be giving the administration some direction by mid- to late-March about how it wants the budget constructed. A decision about a referendum will have to be made fairly soon after that. The cuts will be made public sooner.

    Margaret Whiting read an email message from Harriet Chen stating that lunch time is not long enough, hot or cold, and that wearing outer garments was too difficult for young children and contributes to eating disorders. She invited the Board members to come to lunch at Shorewood Elementary and see how the tables are mopped down in between. Ms. Whiting then added her own comments about the Shorewood children not being encouraged to hang up their costs on racks that are too close together due to a recent lice epidemic. Her son is not functioning at full capacity because there is not enough time to eat. She wanted alternative ways to change lunch, regardless of budget cuts, by switching recess so that it is first or having the children eat in their classrooms one day per week.

    Sara Tedeschi, coordinator of the Farm-to-School program and a parent, stated that Madison was a fabulous school district, even with the budget cuts, but the lunch program was her one disappointment rushing food and play. She did not place blame on anyone or anything and felt that there was no wrongdoing but that it is just an area of neglect. The Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch Project is working with the district Food Services Department and educational partners to look at the possibility of getting other food in the schools. It is very challenging and research is being done to see what can be done on a pilot basis. The school lunch length has never been a main focus of this project but is peripheral and is constraining. District staff has been wonderful to work with. Lincoln, Shorewood, and Chavez have been targeted with a "go slow" model for implementation.

    Mary Sharata, Shorewood parent, reiterated what had been said. She noticed that the Board members had not opened the food packs. She stated that her child cries at night about how loud the lunch room is and that there is not enough time to eat. Her children are ravenous when they get home because they have not eaten their lunch.

    Claudia Werner, Shorewood, had brought in the lunch samples. She wanted the Board to see that it was not good for the kids and asked them to try and eat it while wearing their winter clothing.

    There was some discussion about the degree to which this issue has been raised in the past. The current Superintendent had not had this issue in his history. He indicated that some schools had less time for lunch before they were lengthened when the start/stop times were adjusted. Individual schools have had issues. Lunch periods have not been shortened. Most of the recent emails have come from Shorewood and some from the SAAC group that is citywide.

    There were two written registrations in support of longer lunch periods with more nutritional food. A copy of a petition was distributed for a moratorium on irradiated food in the school lunch program (attached to the original of these minutes).

  3. Announcements

    There were no announcements.

  4. Elementary School Lunch Program

    (Packets included information in response to questions raised at the last Long Range Planning Committee meeting: a survey, a summary of the survey results, a summary of comments from principals, a report from the Director of Food Services, information about the Homegrown Lunch Project, and a chart showing the range of minutes for lunch (copies are attached to the original of these minutes.)

    Discussion: Intent of having second discussion; expected outcome. Figuring out where the Board stands on the issues of recess, nutrition, teaching healthy eating habits, etc. Desire to have a broader discussion of what goes on with inadequate funding of these programs. Wanting to hear more from the administration. Understanding the general results of Ms. Belmore's survey and Mr. Kelly's comments. To the extent it can, the district has made changes. Quite a few schools feel they cannot go any further without major impacts. Uncertainty about whether the administration has said it is totally out of options. Flexibility at the schools with recess times. Related issues of academictime requirements, space parameters and teacher sharing issues. Clarified that all schools provide a place for students to finish their lunches if they want.

    Carol Carstensen was given the Chair.

    It was moved by Ruth Robarts and seconded by Juan José López that the Long Range Planning Committee ask the administration to report back one more time on whether the district can, in its current instructional day, have a 20 minute seated lunch period without cutting resources and instruction. It was further moved that the Human Resources Committee be asked to include this item for negotiations.

    Discussion: Not having the option to instruct the administration without voting because it is a two-part idea. The Superintendent responded that it would have to be negotiated.

    It was moved by Ruth Robarts that the Long the Range Planning Committee recommend to the Human Resources Committee that the negotiation of a longer elementary school day be included, among other things, in this round.

    The Superintendent clarified that it would not be a longer day but a way to accomplish a longer lunch. Ms. Robarts agreed that all these things are to occur within the existing school day or a longer day. Ms. Carstensen agreed that there should be greater flexibility. Ms. Carstensen wanted reduced time for recess to be considered as one potential solution.

    Discussion: There was some discussion about the process for what happens when the Board gets a recommendation from another committee and what it means. The Superintendent suggested voting to have the administration look at the item then hold a Board meeting to approve it which would automatically go to the Human Resources Committee. He felt the directive should go to the administration. There was some discussion about placing the issue in Finance and Operations and in the Human Resources committees. There was an objection to shorter recesses. It was asked that the motion be restated.

    Ruth Robarts restated the motion to refer the matter and negotiating a solution to the scheduling problem. Seconded by Carol Carstensen.

    Discussion: Realizing that everything is budget related and has to have budgetary priorities. Having the Administration analyze the fiscal impact then seek Board approval through the budget process. Not treating the issue as a single process. Wanting the administration to come back to a committee where decisions will be made. Helping the chair of Human Resources with whether the issue has a financial impact or not. Administration will bring the issue to the Human Resources Committee.

    Motion unanimously carried.

    The Superintendent stated that the administration would put together a package and give it to Ray Allen and reiterated that the issue would have contract implications. Clarified that the statements from the schools were remarks from the principals. Ms. Carstensen was still concerned about children wearing outer clothes to lunch.

  5. Lapham Elementary School Renovations, including the Effects the Renovations have on Future Educational Programming

    (Packets included a report on the Lapham renovation project (1/28/03). A copy is attached to the original of these minutes.)

    An update on the Lapham renovation project was distributed dated February 2003 (a copy is attached to the original of these minutes). It was felt by some that in the Lapham district that the renovation was not clearly defined. Ms. Belmore invited anyone who was interested to become part of the planning team. The real purpose was to upgrade the building and make as much educational space as possible. It is a very inefficient building in terms of room usage. The steering committee has done an excellent job in making tough decisions. It has been the best process in terms of having building people involved from staff to the community. Second grade will be staying in the building. The four-year-old program was looked at but it is not likely to be placed at Lapham. The group is very excited about the project. Ms. Robarts expressed her appreciation for the report.

  6. Other Business

    No discussion.

  7. Adjournment

    It was moved by Juan José López and seconded by Carol Carstensen that the meeting adjourn at 6:25 p.m. Motion unanimously carried.