Madison Board Will Not Discuss Superintendent’s Decision to Quit Federal “Reading First” Program

In a recent submission, I discussed three reasons why I believe that the Madison School Board should receive more information about Superintendent Rainwater’s decision to end participation of five elementary schools in the federal “Reading First” program. See “What the Board Should Know Before Rejecting “Reading First” Funding”.
I remain unconvinced that Rainwater’s memo makes the case for declining $2M in federal reading assistance at Hawthorne, Glendale, Orchard Ridge and Lincoln/Midvale schools. In particular, the Board should be concerned about the reading achievement gap at each of these schools between economically disadvantaged children and children who are not economically disadvantaged. The results on the reading test at fourth grade in 2003–part of the Wisconsin Knowledge Concepts Evaluation tests—show these gaps between the economically disadvantaged students scoring “proficient or advanced” and their peers.
Hawthorne: Econ. Disadvantaged = 57%
Not Disadvantaged = 77%
Glendale: Econ. Disadvantaged = 73%
Not Disadvantaged = 82%
Orchard Ridge: Econ Disadvantaged = 55%
Not Disadvantaged = 90%
Lincoln: Econ. Disadvantaged = 66%
Not Disadvantaged = 88%
For District elementary schools combined: Econ. Disadvantaged = 66%
Not Disadvantaged = 88%
However, President Bill Keys has polled the Board members and told me that they all agree that discussion is not necessary. Here is our exchange of e-mails.

Bill: Please arrange for the Board to discuss the continuation of the Reading First funding at Hawthorne, Glendale, Orchard Ridge and Lincoln/Midvale. I don’t think that the Board has sufficient information to approve the superintendent’s action. Ruth
As I stated in an earlier email, I do not believe a meeting of the Board to discuss any one particular grant is appropriate. Historically, the Board has neither approved applications for grants, nor disapproved them so long as they are consistent with Board policies and MMSD practices and mission. Applying for grants is the work of the Administration and staff, and I believe that its action regarding the grant you refer to is consistent with their charge. I have polled all other Board members, and all feel the same: the Superintendent’s action does not need their approval. Thus, I won’t arrange for the Board to discuss the continuation of the Reading First grant at Hawthorne, Glendale, Orchard Ridge and Lincoln/Midvale.
I need to correct the wording of my last email re your request to have the Board discuss this subject. I simply polled the members and they said that they do not want to meet on this subject.
Bill: I believe that when the district receives grants, the Board
votes each time to increase the budget to include the grant. We also
regularly hear presentations about why the district is pursuing a
curriculum-related grant, such as funds for Comprehensive School