Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, Wisconsin

Art Rainwater, Superintendent
Minutes for Long Range Planning
March 2, 2005
Leopold Elementary School
2602 Post Road, Library Media Center
Madison, Wisconsin

Long Range Planning Committee meeting was called to order by Chair Ruth Robarts at 7 p.m.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Carol Carstensen, Ruth Robarts, Johnny Winston, Jr. (arrived 7:03 p.m.--left 9:25 p.m.).


OTHER BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Bill Clingan, Bill Keys, Juan José López (arrived 7:50 p.m.), Shwaw Vang (arrived 7:13 p.m.)


MEMBERS PRESENT: Joan Eggert, Oliver Kiefer (Student Representative), Lucy Mathiak, Jan Sternbach

STAFF PRESENT: Mary Gulbrandsen, Roger Price, Art Rainwater, Ken Syke, Ann Wilson - Recording Secretary

1. Public Hearing on the Overcrowded Number of Students at Leopold Elementary School

Written materials distributed at the meeting included a letter from Ruth Robarts, Modules 3A3 and 3D2, respective feedback sheets (copies are attached to the original of these minutes).

Committee, advisory committee, and Board members were introduced. Ruth Robarts noted she had requested additional information for a boundary change option that would cap the enrollment at the Leopold site at approximately 800 students. Carol Carstensen noted she had asked the administration to present some additional plans that affect mostly the East attendance area - these are creative plans for discussion, not necessarily supported. She also asked for changes to recommended plans that would move fewer children.

Nichole Green - Leopold has been a community and family building project; all have learned together. Will never forget outposting; hope no one has to go through that again. Stop outposting and make no more boundary changes. Listen to parents and staff and keep students where they belong. No long bus rides. Students need to live in the area so families can be involved in the school.

Kathryn Burns - Kindergarten teacher at Leopold, supports a second school at the Leopold site. Told story of the lost mitten - fabric is stretched, but the knitting is strong and it holds. All are welcome in the cozy, warm, snug space at Leopold. Keep community together. Two schools would mean many students, but if kept together, they would thrive. Leopold community has always asked to stay together. Trust Board will maintain two separate schools, with separate administrations.

Todd Van Ells - Three most difficult things a child goes through are death of a parent, divorce, or changing schools. Re-established himself in the neighborhood after divorce. Growth has to be considered - use an "edge in" strategy rather than drawing lines along streets, for example the assignment of new developments to schools that have space. New, incoming students should go to schools that have space. Issue that has to be revisited over and over. Allow children to stay in one location. Leopold has sense of community; daughter has strong sense of belonging.

Brian Casey - Supports building a second school. Toured Leopold. Saw vastly overcrowded school - classes in the hallway, enormous amount of time spent moving students - lunchtime logistics. There is clearly not enough room. Two schools is a much more reasonable alternative than busing and losing parent participation. Continue to address the growing needs of our community. Good public education is the best thing we can provide, but you need a facility with enough room.

Arlene Silveira - It was a Leopold community decision to recommend to the Board to build a second school on the Leopold campus. Asked the school community what they preferred - surveyed the entire school community. There were 524 votes (90%) for building a second school on the Leopold campus. Reasons are - family support, cost savings, and integrated long-term planning. Leopold is a school of great diversity that works well. Embrace our diversity and want to keep our school together. Support and understand the need of all communities to have a neighborhood school.

Beth Zurbuchen - Supports building a second school. Proposal came from the school community and continue to support it. Accept the decision made by the board. Thoroughly support community involvement. Makes dollars and sense to build on the Leopold site - savings on busing and cost of land. Three years later, Ruth Robarts is questioning the size of the second school. Is there no concern for other "mega schools" like Jefferson adjacent to Memorial, La Follette and Sennett, the five elementary/middle school sites? There are ways of building community in large schools. Dissident voices will destroy us.

Troy Dassler - Presented slide show of what the Leopold community "looks like." Diversity and size make the school strong. Glad to be back together (after outposting) but students were warmly welcomed at Huegel. All his students are Spanish speakers, free/reduced lunch, and walk to school. Experiences when homes burned were that everybody worked together. Studies show that with high poverty schools, achievement levels go down, but with a mix of students, the achievement levels of low income students go up. Neighborhood school allows families to be a part of Even Start.

Meg Cates - Now I understand why these people don't want to build a school in Fitchburg.

Mayra Capelle - Supports the proposed second school. Need to consider it as a long-term solution instead of busing. Children from some families going to different schools. Students will feel they belong to their community. Two schools will not affect the size of the classroom, which is different than the size of the building.

Kristi Buscemi - Supports the concept of a neighborhood school and favors a second school at Leopold. Supported that since 2002 - was overjoyed that a plan was in motion. Now the referendum is just around the corner but has a number of concerns if the referendum doesn't pass. Will we have to move? Start over? Considering how her life would change if the vote was no. Need unified support by the Board of Education.

Judy Olson - Does the board see needs for additional space for the west side in the near future? These sound like short-range solutions when we need a long range plan. Will kids just be moved out for a short time and then moved again?

Mary Wendland - Chose to live where we do because of the schools. She herself attended Leopold, Midvale, Edgewood, and West. Do not want child's friendships broken, no cohesiveness. The long-range plan is to build a second school here. It will not fix anything to re-boundary and make another mess in someone else's yard.

Chris Kolar - PFO sent a survey regarding referendum support with three choices: yes, a second school; no, not a second school; or do not support a referendum. Eighty-four of 96 responders were in support. There were some concerns about size on both ends - but the most important thing is how kids feel about school. Children learn from the diversity of this school. Size is the best of both worlds - small class sizes, separate schools, contact with older students.

Chris Hammer - Supports a referendum for second a school. Lives in a neighborhood that would be bused if the new school is not built. Hopes no students are bused - worried about long bus ride. Concerned about property values - who would buy a house where the children would have to be bused so far? Purchased home planning to attend West. Concerned about being able to participate in extracurricular activities and success in school which is important to higher education. In the interim before a new school is built, do what is least disruptive and close Leopold to new families.

Eric Wilcots - Don't look forward to moving kids. Looked at plans - as a scientist, like to go with the simplest plan. This is not simple - it's very complex and doesn't solve long-term problems. That solution is to build a second school and build it here. Attended a conference today at the University on excellence through diversity - strongly supports that here at Leopold.

Janet Morrow - Huegel parent whose children built relationships with Leopold students during outposting. The district owns the land at Leopold and has plans drawn up for a new school that will meet the specific needs of this community. The school will open none too soon. It is a good idea and a fiscally responsible one. Cited examples of advantages over other paired schools in the district. Two schools on one site can be the better of two worlds - parts will be separate but the community will be whole. A sense of community should start early in life. Leopold is a strong community now but will be even stronger when the new school is built.

Mary Kay Battaglia - Represents about ten families at Crestwood who are disappointed the administration did not put together a plan for us. If the referendum fails, students move out of Crestwood. As the Crestwood - Muir - Stephens community ages, there will be a huge school with low enrollment. Wonder if you need a school that big for Leopold. Will be building a new school west of Muir. For the whole community, is it a good thing to build a large school and then need another one on the far west side? Also resent this forum being used as a place to hash out the board's problems - should do that behind closed doors.

Laurie Rinehardt - Crestwood parent - supports a referendum to build a second school. Will do all she can to support referendum in her area. Came to get to know our school board members. Agree with the need for consistency and a sense of community. Live in an island, but don't feel like that - feel integrated. Moving kids is so disruptive just for the reason of smoothing out boundaries. Will work on a better plan than those proposed.

Written Registrations -

9 - in support of the recommendation for a paired school at the Leopold site

10 - expressing concerns about boundary changes in the Memorial attendance area

2. Other Business

There was no other business.

3. Adjournment

It was moved by Carol Carstensen and seconded by Ruth Robarts to adjourn the meeting at 9:38 p.m. Motion unanimously carried by those present.