Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, Wisconsin

Art Rainwater, Superintendent
Minutes for Long Range Planning
January 23, 2006
Lincoln Elementary School
909 Sequoia Trail, Gym
Madison, Wisconsin

Long Range Planning Committee meeting was called to order by Chair Bill Keys at 6:40 p.m.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Bill Keys, Lawrie Kobza, Juan José López


OTHER BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Carol Carstensen, Ruth Robarts, Shwaw Vang, Johnny Winston, Jr., and Student Representative Connor Gants

STAFF PRESENT: Sue Abplanalp, Rita Applebaum, Jane Belmore, Mary Gulbrandsen, Steve Hartley, Kurt Kiefer, Roger Price, Joe Quick, Art Rainwater, Loren Rathert, Barbara Lehman-Recording Secretary

Item 3 was taken up out of order.

3. Final Report from the Memorial/West and East Attendance Areas Demographics and Long Range Facility Needs Task Forces

Mary Gulbrandsen acknowledged the work of the Task Force members and thanked Jane Belmore and Rita Applebaum and Loren Rathert for staffing the task forces. Everything is on the web site. She explained what the written report included what would be presented this evening, the good news/bad news, and an overview of December through January.

Rita Applebaum acknowledged the work of the East Task Force members. She reviewed the organization of the report, the background and process, the scope of the work, and noted in particular the position paper on the issue of closing a school. She presented each of the options with accompanying maps and the rationale for removing school closings from consideration (a copy of the presentation is attached to the original of these minutes).

Jane Belmore gave the presentation of the final report of the Memorial/West Task Force (a copy of the presentation is attached to the original of these minutes). She described the ideas discussed to deal with over-crowding in the Memorial/West Attendance areas then reviewed each of the recommendations with accompanying maps.

1. Approval of Minutes

It was moved by Juan José López and seconded by Lawrie Kobza to approve the minutes of the Long Range Planning Committee meeting dated December 19, 2005 as distributed. Motion unanimously carried.

2. Announcements

There were no announcements.

4. Public Appearances

Jeff Feinblatt, Lake View PTSO Co-President, opposed options E-27-2 and E-27-3. He was not opposed to moving Packers children for unifying purposes. They are happy with their diversity. Lake View works for them. They were concerned about the Maple Bluff parents moving out which would seriously undermine their efforts. They are dealing with their overcrowding and space issues and did not feel these options would save the district any money.

Don Drott, Lake View PTSO Co-President, stated that their school is at 106% capacity and they do not mind. They have some experts coming through to help them use their space. They want the fewest children moved. He added that balancing poverty is a means to an end. The schools are achieving right now. They are excited to get things going; they have risen over $15,000. They have an emotional and economic interest in the schools and they do not need fixing.

Linda Galang, Emerson parent and East Task Force member, asked that if the Board needed to have a conversation about closing schools that they have an open discussion. She also asked that the Board's final decision reflect the work of the task force and to take into account the La Follette area which is projected to be overenrolled. She added that they all think highly of their schools.

Deborah Gilbert, Swan Creek resident, wanted the Board to go to referendum for Leopold. She thought there was a lot of interest in Memorial and West but not in La Follette. She was very concerned about support for CP3a and thought there was a perception that the Board does not listen to the community. The length of the bus rides was also a concern. She was torn between CP4 and CP2. She added that CP2 had a better chance of passing but the programmatic changes were too deep.

Gregory Vorontsov, resident of Swan Creek, supported Option CP1. He thought the district should start small and wait before building a new school in the far west. CP2 is the cheapest and easiest to pass.

Robert Godfrey, Lake View, acknowledged the huge issues the Board is facing. He stated that Lake View is trying to preserve its culture and that their community is unwilling to be broken up. Options 27-2 and 27-3 should be taken off the table. The agenda item did not appear but was added at the last minute at the last meeting. A privately held meeting took place with two task force members and one administrator. The first agenda items were directives from the Long Range Planning Committee to disrupt the fewest number of children and many plans do quite the opposite. They were hastily prepared. As for the issues of under-enrollment and income disparity, each of the three plans do not address both at the same time. The spreadsheets always had errors. Their school is doing very well.

Renee Hammond, Fitchburg resident, felt there was a lack of information pitting east against west. She stated that the district has refused to build a school in Fitchburg. She did not think the district could continually expand on the same school and should put one in Fitchburg. Fitchburg is paying more than their share of Madison bills and they do not have a representative for their schools. Fitchburg did not fail the referendum; the district did not educate its community. People were upset with land acquisition on the far west side at a cost of $12 million at only 54 percent capacity and a lot of low-income students. A new building does nothing to help the current income disparity. Maximize current resources by realigning where students live and make building changes at the current school.

Randy Smith, Swan Creek resident, supported Options CP3a and CP4 but could not see Madison supporting a referendum. He did not believe the referendum would be well represented. Swan Creek has no representation on the Board. He wanted parents to be close to their children. By sending students to Randall or Midvale makes for long bus rides and the parents cannot interact. He thought that fighting against Verona and Oregon, who have no changes, was their biggest hurdle.

Carol Carstensen responded to Mr. Smith stating that all the Board members are elected districtwide to represent everyone and that Fitchburg is part of the MMSD. She also noted that the Oregon School District asked the MMSD to take the Swan Creek development. At that point, the MMSD had a long range plan which involved building a new school and an addition. There was some discussion regarding Board support for the last referendum and for future referenda, having a back-up plan should a referendum fail, community involvement through the task forces, and rectifying Leopold's overcrowded situation as soon as possible.

Wendy Cooper, member of the Memorial/West Task Force, started to make difficult suggestiond about her own school. There was mostly a unanimous vote on Option CP3a. They could not get consensus on Option CP1a. If a referendum fails, they learned that there is no reasonable long-term plan without additional capacity at Leopold right away and in the Memorial area. The Board has a challenge to take all the detailed work and communicate that, but she would be out there for as long as it takes.

Michelle Reynolds, member of the Memorial/West Task Force, noted that it was not easy and they worked hard. She supported everything that Wendy Cooper said. She has heard parents say they were unrepresented. The task force tried everything and could not make it work. They really did not consider even the two recommendations that do only one building; they are just back-up plans. They recommend the two buildings because it is the only way to create space. They supported Option CP3a; the others are if we have to or what could happen, but they do not work well.

Carol Quintana, member of the Memorial/West Task Force, Stephens parent, and resident of the Spring Harbor neighborhood. Stated that it has been an education. The newspaper article was excellent because it brought so many things together in an informative way. Most of her PTO members read it. Madison needs to be informed. There are strong feelings about preserving school communities. She wanted people to study the question about moving Allied Drive students from Stephens to Chavez and wanted information about how they are assigned. She added that the Spring Harbor neighborhood is opposed to Option CP2 that divides them into two parts.

It was explained that currently Allied Drive students are assigned to four schools. They would like to be in one school or one attendance area. They would like not to be moved from Thoreau right away. The plans put them at different schools.

Lauren Mikol, school psychologist at Lincoln, stated that Lincoln is one of the best and safest schools in the city. They take emotional and physical safety very seriously. Support staff makes that happen. They have taken on a school-wide anti-bullying program and bullying has dropped significantly. They came up with five different things to agree to and contracts had to go home and be signed. Stress has been reduced for the students.

Andrea Bilger, four years in the Open Classroom, suggested using it as another option by expanding the program and attracting students from overcrowded schools. There is a waiting list now and Lincoln's space is underutilized. Could also create one on the east side.

Marisue Horton, represented the Hawks community and all ten of the new developments on the Board's map. There are new parents in the audience willing to learn. There are four elementary schools that are overcrowded. She supported Option CP3 for a minimum of five years that and that is why the new school would have a beginning 54 percent enrollment. Chavez filled up quickly; do not want a new school to be immediately full. The entire district and entire community will be affected. She was willing to help everyone try to understand the status of the district.

Rich Rubasch, member of the Memorial/West Task Force, lives in the Channel 3 island. His solution was to build an addition to Leopold, an addition to Chavez, and a new school. No one agreed. So here we are with CP3a. They debated quite a bit. The programmatic changes are very messy. Discussion focused on CP1a more than any other option. They got nowhere with it. CP3a really addresses the problem and rose to the top. It was the only option that received unanimous support. As a Chavez parent, he was concerned about stability. The mold problem moved them twice in two years. Any decision that the Board makes should be long term. CP1a is very difficult. The district needs to grow and expand.

Gina Hodgson, Memorial/West Task Force alternate from Thoreau, thought CP3a was the best option by far. She wanted the Board to go to referendum with one question. Options CP2 and CP4 would get different directions. They never came to agreement on the others. She thought they would find that within their constituencies at the schools. Everyone has to come together. Some Allied Drive students currently attend Thoreau and they want them to stay but they also want what is best for the community. Taking Allied Drive students to schools that are far away may not be what is best.

Written registrations included one in support of building to supply more seats on the west side, one in support of honoring the recommendations that grew out of the work of the east task force, and one opposed to any change to boundaries for Lake View.

5. Memorial/West and East Attendance Areas Demographics and Long Range Facility Needs Task Forces' Recommendations for Options that were included in the Task Forces' Final Reports

(Packets included the final reports (1/19/06). Copies are attached to the original of these minutes.)

Discussion: Documents entitled "Considerations when Redrawing Boundary Lines," "Dealing with Overcrowded Elementary Schools," and "Elementary Schools with Declining Enrollment" were very useful (copies were distributed and one is attached to the original of these minutes). Enrollment projections for the district are very accurate but maybe not school by school. Reviewed changes by high school attendance area between 2005 06 and 2010 (Memorial at 111% and East at 83%). Number of empty seats in West and La Follette areas by 2010. Referenced another document in the final report showing capacity numbers for middle and high schools. Solving overcrowding by boundary adjustments and building in the Memorial area. Focusing on the Memorial Area rather than West.

It was moved by Juan José López and seconded by Bill Keys that the Long Range Planning Committee accept the recommendations and the reports of the Memorial/West and East Attendance Areas Demographics and Long Range Facility Needs Task Forces with a caveat, as a committee, and advance them to the full Board so the full Board can proceed with forums and make specific decisions about going forward.

Discussion: Keeping schools open in the East Area because neighborhoods can turn over. Defining what it means for the Committee to accept the report. Limiting the motion to just moving it on to the full Board. Spirit of the committee to recommend the reports and recommendations to the full Board.

Juan José López amended his motion, accepted as friendly by seconder, that the Long Range Planning Committee accept the reports with the recommendations for review by the Board of Education.

Discussion: Committee is not adopting anything. Committee is only advisory. Reserving the right not to support the recommendations.

Juan José López amended his motion a second time, seconded by Lawrie Kobza, to refer the Task Force reports to the entire Board of Education. Motion unanimously carried.

FOLLOW UP: Hold a meeting at the Fitchburg Community Center. Break out options from Memorial/West Task Force by attendance area rather than alphabetical order. Present an option that handles the capacity in the West Attendance Area all within the West Attendance Area with a new school in the Memorial Area. Hold a meeting on the north side that addresses the Packers Town Houses and at Allied Drive. Explore the use of the Doyle building to accommodate the Alternatives or MSCR.

6. Other Business

There was no other business.

7. Adjournment

It was moved by Juan José López and seconded by Lawrie Kobza to adjourn the meeting at 9:29 p.m. Motion unanimously carried.