Believe it or not, I am a pretty regular reader of the schoolinforsystems website. I find it to be an excellent opportunity to read about other viewpoints and opinions that I don’t hear about in newspapers, radio, television and other media outlets. While I don’t always agree with “everything” that a prospective writer is saying, I do respect their point of view. At times the commentary makes me “think a little harder” or perhaps look at a situation “a little differently.” Maybe it makes me think more “outside the box.” However, I do want to caution that posting on the website should not detract from developing the relationships needed to have further discussion with the elected school board members. It also should not be used to circumvent the democratic processes.

Last spring, website developer Jim Zellmer reached out to me as a candidate for Madison school board. I was very impressed by him, his wife and children. His efforts allowed others who might not have known about me, to have this opportunity. Mr. Zellmer is truly a professional. His hard work and efforts are much appreciated by me. Even if a majority of people posting on the website are critical of the school district, I don’t believe it is a reflection of how a writer feels about education. I believe we can all agree on how education is important to our students and to our community. I don’t take the commentary personally just like I don’t take the voting outcomes personally from my colleagues. I have much respect for them, too. But just so you know, I don’t always agree with them either!
School board members are elected by the community to represent their views and interests. With seven elected members, it is conceivable that the each member can have their own views and interests. Can the Madison Metropolitan School District go in seven different directions? No! No matter how hard we try! This is why it’s so important to build the relationships necessary with other board members because when it comes down to it, four board members (or a majority) will make a decision. The majority is not always the same people, either. It changes by the topic or agenda item. When discussing particular issues, a motion needs a second. A second is followed by discussion. Like it or not, this is the democratic process used by the school board and many other committees and legislative bodies.
In closing, I want to say to those who might be critical of the school district – keep posting and I’ll keep reading. This school board member might agree with you and I might not. I respect your rights but please don’t let your “posts” become the only discussion. Board meetings are every Monday night and open to the public. You are more than welcome to come to share your views with the entire board and administration. But remember board meetings will not become discussions or debates. School board members can discuss all night long but eventually one of the elected officials is “going to call the question.” That’s what you elect us to do. I look forward to working with you.
Johnny Winston, Jr.
Member of the Board of Education
Chair of the Partnership Committee


  1. Thank you for your comments, Mr. Winston. There are writers who may appear “critical” of (don’t agree with) the School Board, but I believe we all want an excellent public education for our children. I see that is what you are trying to do as a Board member at your meetings.
    I began contributing to the website so that I could a) share information I obtained from board meetings with a wider audience in simpler language, b) offer an alternative perspective on district analyses and positions, c) offer suggestions about what I would like to see the board consider in their deliberations and d) challenge the School Board. For the most part, I try to offer my comments/suggestions both at board meetings and on this blog and I’ll continue to do that. Also, I’ve tried to make the Board more accessible to the public by videotaping meetings.
    Many of us who write on this site want to see a broader discussion of the issues from several perspectives, we would like to see Board members consider the information they receive thoroughly and to ask challenging questions before setting the policy direction for the community, and we would like to see Board members consider reaching out to the community to help with problem solving in as much of a collaborative approach as possible, especially when resources are scarce. The breadth of knowledge in this community and the community’s strong support of an excellent education continues to impress me.
    Blogging is in no way meant to undermine the votes of the school board members even if I disagree with those votes. Others and I hope your decisions are made after careful deliberation so that decisions being made are the best for children’s learning and achievement –
    As I wrote in a recent letter to the editor of The Capital Times which has not been published as yet – While not everyone is likely to be happy with the final results [re boundary changes], experience has shown time and again that when parents and community members are presented with solid information and are engaged in the process, they can work well together for the best possible solutions for children�s learning.
    Johnny, thank you for taking the time to comment and to read our site!

  2. Thank you so much for posting here, Mr. Winston, and for taking the time to read the thoughtful pieces others submit. Especially given everyone’s busy schedules, it is wonderful to have a place where discussion can continue to take place after the meetings are over and the papers read, and all the better when our decisionmakers care enough to tune in. Folks are eager to read what your thoughts are on the pressing issues before the board—post away!

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