Post mortem on Leopold referendum

Joan Knoebel offered her thoughts on how to win support for the operating referendum, and I whole-heartedly second them.
On the Leopold referendum, I’d ask the board and supporters to do two things:
1) Lay out three or four alternative locations and configurations for a new Westside school, draw possible boundaries, develop cost projections, and then debate which alterantive seems to be the most likely to achieve academic excellence on the West side.
2) Invite organizations or individuals to propose a charter school on the Westside. Several people suggested a charter or magnet school, so let’s see whether one might emerge as the best option for providing excellent education in the area.
Current overcrowding is not an issue at Leopold. Leopold is overcrowded, but I’ll vote no again on a second school at Leopold if its supporters rotely drone, “This is the only option. This is the only option. This is the only option.”

5 thoughts on “Post mortem on Leopold referendum”

  1. Ed,
    I like your proposal in #1.
    I still feel the Leopold addition was the best solution. It put a school where there is
    growth. I think everyone can find reasons for disagreement. In the meantime, there is
    a true projection of growth on Madison’s south side on Fish Hatchery Road; south
    of PD.
    The issue for voting no for many residents of that area include:
    Some parents would like Fitchburg to have their own school &
    Many families attend private school rather than public
    I simply agree with Johnny that Allied is not the appropriate location. Although,
    farther west than Leopold. Allied is not where there is growth. Allied is not growing;
    it is NOT the location of the highest low income. The growing area of low income is
    located along Raymond Road and Schroeder Road (between Whitney Way and
    Gammon/McKenna). These areas include the elementary schools of Heugel,
    Orchard Ridge and Falk – who by the way performed better than at least one of our
    non-SAGE schools.
    It is my belief, if we build a school, the location needs to be placed where there is
    growth and to consider alleviating a high concentration of low income at one school
    vs. another. We need to be able to sell it (academic excellence) to encourage more
    students to enroll in our public schools rather than private.
    Madison is a wonderful city with excellent choices for education. Many new families
    don’t realize how great. Many choose private because it was a family tradition, many
    because of their childs individual personality and needs, and yes, some, because the
    playground isn’t what they had hoped.
    I’m working, even after the post-mortem referenda results, to prove our schools are
    great! I wish that for all parents. Not that I don’t see nor understand the problems or
    issues….I’m just tired of looking at the glass as “half-empty” when in alot of real,
    concrete cases…it’s half full!

  2. I agree with Ruth Robarts that the Board should explore all options before laying off classroom personel and that revisting the ongoing MTI negotiations is the place to start.
    I think that this issue is also linked to a key to the failure of two of the referenda — the transparency of the process. Wages and benefits are by far the largest budget item, yet the negotiations with MTI are shrouded in mystery. I’ve looked through the newspapers, the MTI site and the MSMD site and can find very little information about the current negotiations. Perhaps this is a legal question and negotiations must be secret (does anyone know?). But if they can be public and publicized, they should be. If, as many believe, the administration and the Board need to be tougher with MTI, then public scrutiny woulkd make this more likely. If the administration and the Board are already sufficiently tough with MTI (as many others believe), then public scrutiny would undermine the position of those who question the contracts.
    I see many potential benefits and little if any harm coming from shining a light on the negotiations.
    Thomas J. Mertz

  3. We are finaly,slowly, taking back Madison from the far left. We are fed up with ever increasing property taxes for our supposedly “excellent” schools! We spend more per student than any other district in the state, yet our test scores are lower than other districts. Throwing more money at it does not solve the problem. There are too many administrators. Why are they not being cut?
    We heard that a no vote was a vote against our children. How sad that point of view is. Look at Carol Carstensen, is she advocating cutting administrators or having teachers take a pay cut? No, she wants to cut kids programs like strings and such. Who really cares about the kids? Not the Administrators or the teachers or the board.
    This vote was a signal to the board, that we want it run like a business. Honest budgeting and living within your means. If some kids have to be bused a little farther, then so be it. I heard last night from the board that this would cause a ripple effect and that some schools would then be NEAR capacity. Like this is a bad thing? Schools should be near capacity, that is the most effecient use of a school. What do you want a half empty school?
    Sadly, the board just doesn’t get it. They get soundly defeated and the first thing they talk about is a new referendum. We need a law that if a referendum is defeated, there can not be a similar one for 3 more years. Perhaps, this will get the board to manage OUR money better. In the meantime it is time to get new more conservative voices on the board. Throwing Bill Clingan out of office was a good start!

  4. Mary,
    I did say that I believe the Leopold site is the best for the city. There is overcrowding and growth on the south west side of town. A different location is going to cost more.
    If we are exploring options, I believe in putting a school where the children are and where there is growth. Growth is happening in 3 locations of the city, East, Southwest and far West.
    East has 2 schools that are under 70% capacity, therefore they are able to re-district and move students to accomodate space needs for SAGE and growing elementary age population.
    The far westside is also growing and homes are being sold to younger families and elementary schools are at 85% or higher.
    The southwest side (Leopold) is already over capacity with classes in hallways and closets (yes, I’ve visited during the school hours). PLUS 77 students bussed from Leopold area to Chavez and 25 students at Thoreau. PLUS 1 plotted development south on Fish Hatch & possibly 1 – 2 more in the near future. The overcrowding is affecting the near capacity levels of all west-side schools.
    I believe in putting schools where the children are. If they need to, I think the board should open the discussion of the northside schools with possible consideration of working with Waunakee and Middleton/CrossPlains districts to alleviate their capacity issues.
    To be truthful, this will never fly because all parents are passionate about their neighborhood school. But if we are looking to evaluate this like a business, we have to put the buildings where the business is growing.

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