Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, Wisconsin

Art Rainwater, Superintendent
Minutes for Long Range Planning
March 10, 2005
Dane County Parent Council
2096 Red Arrow Trail, Multipurpose Room
Madison, Wisconsin

Long Range Planning Committee meeting was called to order by Chair Ruth Robarts at 7:10 p.m.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Carol Carstensen, Ruth Robarts, Johnny Winston, Jr.


OTHER BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Bill Clingan, Juan José López, Shwaw Vang


PRESENT: Joan Eggert, Lucy Mathiak, and Student Board Member Oliver Kiefer

STAFF PRESENT: Linda Allen, Elizabeth Fritz, Mary Gulbrandsen, Roger Price, Art Rainwater, Ken Syke, Nancy Yoder, Barbara Lehman-Recording Secretary

1. Announcements

There were no announcements.

2. Public Hearing on the Assignment of Students who live on Allied Drive to MMSD Schools

Jose Antonio Perez knew that Leopold was overcrowded but did not want to have his child attend a different school. She loves Thoreau and knows people from the neighborhood and everyone is happy.

Lynette Wright, Allied-Dunn's Marsh Neighborhood Association, has two sons who attend Stephens Elementary. The teachers work with her son very well, she likes Stephens, and she thought the children, even if they are young, should have a choice about the school they go to. She did not agree that all the children from the Allied area should go to one high school. She also felt that 30 kids in a classroom was too many. The bus ride to Stephens is only 20 minutes.

Alice Howard does not have kids in this community but has been here ten years and works with all the children. She worked at Stephens for three years. She stated that they know their children go to four elementary schools (including one in Fitchburg). Children in the Allied community are set and complete because the teachers work well with these children and that is not easy to do. She thought the addition to Leopold was a waste because now a whole new school is being proposed. The Allied community has wanted their own school for a long time and she thought the district should think about that as an option.

Elena Meyer has been at Stephens for four years working as a bilingual resource specialist. She was really concerned about how our Latino newcomers are received at any of our schools with a different assignment procedure for Allied than for the rest of Madison. She distributed a petition signed by Stephens' staff asking the Long Range Planning Committee to consider the option of assigning students on Allied drive to MMSD schools according to their street address as is done throughout the rest of the district. They also wanted the committee to consider, wherever possible, grandfathering students so they can attend the schools they are currently attending. Then as families move in to the neighborhood, depending on how streets are divided, families moving into an apartment would know which school their children would be attending.

Patricia Cox, Allied Drive resident for 5 and years, stated that her children only know Stephens. Her children do not want to change schools. They have found stability at Stephens. She understood the reasons for the proposed changes but did not understand why a stable group of children should be put into a new environment. The children do not understand and it is up to the adults to provide stability.

Charmaine Drake, social worker at Stephens, stated that they wanted to keep all their Allied families at Stephens. It was important to her and to the rest of the staff that the parents know the staff did not have a part in this recommendation and that they were caught by surprise. She understood the budget issues but could not support the change at Stephens. The staff is trying to stabilize this community and did not believe they should be moved again.

Carrie Willkomm, parent of two children who attend Thoreau, live in an area that is slated to go to Van Hise. She did not understand why they had to be moved when Leopold is the school that is overcrowded. They do not live next to the Allied neighborhood but see each other in the park. It would be hard for them to get into the Van Hise community that is so far away from their home. She asked how many children were directly represented on the committee. They chose their home because it was in the Thoreau district.

The Superintendent confirmed that if the referendum passes to build on the Leopold site, the short-term plan would only affect Leopold. If it fails, the short-term plan would be implemented because the board could choose to go back to referendum in the fall. Allied Drive issues were separate to everything else. The administration was trying to get them into a single high school attendance area but could go either direction. If they stay at Thoreau then plan 3D3 will not work. It becomes very difficult to keep Leopold kids in the west area and have Allied Drive students at Thoreau. The point was made that it is important to pass the referendum not just for Leopold.

Yannette Figueroa-Cole, lives between Allied Drive and Nakoma, thought the information coming out was very confusing. Information from the school is different than what was being relayed at this meeting. Her child did not want to move to another school. She would not put her child on a bus to go across town. The budget cuts are a different issue but when it comes to special education, her son gets help at Thoreau. She was okay with sending him to another school but wanted to keep the neighborhood together. She hoped the referendum would pass and she would pass on the information to their parents.

Michelle Chaudoir, EvenStart Coordinator at this location and at Crestwood, helps parents improve their education and be better parents. It is challenging for Allied Drive parents who have to travel outside of Allied Drive to visit their children in school but they are doing the best they can. Schools are providing a lot of stability for the families. Stephens has been a very strong school and the staff are really strong advocates and offering the support the children need. She hoped that would continue.

Angelica Alvidez has a five-year-old who will be attending kindergarten next year. She wanted to know if her daughter could attend Sugar Creek which is outside the Madison district. She was asked to contact Mary Gulbrandsen.

Rebecca Stockwell has two boys at Leopold, they were really impressed with Leopold and the community because of its placement. There is real diversity and it is really easy for those nearby to volunteer. Seems like if kids are shifted away from Allied Drive it would make it harder. Why not have a school built on Allied Drive then the Fitchburg kids could come here.

Daniel Wood, social worker for five years in Allied neighborhood, stated that any of the plans would have to include Stephens and Crestwood. Those staffs are ahead of the curve in creating a welcoming climate that would take two to four years to create at a new building. MSCR is well honed. There is fierce loyalty for their respective buildings.

Unregistered speaker, mother of three at Cherokee and two at Thoreau, stated that these schools are like their second home and it would be devastating if they had to go somewhere else. If there are changes, she hoped that her children would be grandfathered in. She asked that the district please see to it that they have a choice of where they want to go for high school. Her children did not want to make new friends. Some people do not have transportation to visit their schools and worry about how they are going to get there for conferences, etc.

Maren Hill, teacher at Thoreau, appreciated the diversity they have from Allied Drive students. She would rather go to another school if that changes.

There were fifteen written registrations: four in support of reducing the number of schools for Allied down to Stephens and Crestwood; one in support of keeping the Allied children particularly at Stephens; three in opposition to relocating Allied Drive students; one in opposition to eliminating strings and music programs; one in opposition to moving from Thoreau to Van Hise; one in support of plans 3D3 if the referendum fails and 3A2 if it passes; and two in support of taking time at the public hearings to clearly summarize/highlight the changes being considered.

FOLLOW UP: Oliver Kiefer asked the administration to draw up a new plan that does the same thing but keeps Allied Drive kids at Thoreau. Ruth Robarts indicated that she would be asking for a fall-back plan earlier than April 11.

3. Other Business

There was no other business.

4. Adjournment

It was moved by Carol Carstensen and seconded by Johnny Winston, Jr. to adjourn the meeting at 8:55 p.m. Motion unanimously carried.