2006-2007 MMSD Budget Comments

Jason Shepherd writing in the December 29, 2005 Isthmus:

  • Superintendent Art Rainwater: says the “most frustrating” part of his job is knowing there are ways to boost achievement with more resources, but not being able to allocate them. Instead, the district must each year try to find ways to minimize the hurt.
  • Board member Lawrie Kobza wants the board to review its strategic plan to ensure all students are being challenged with a rigorous curriculum.
  • Carol Carstensen, the current Board President says the “heterogenous” groupings, central to the West controversy (English 10, 1 curriculum for all), will be among the most important curriculum issues for 2006.
  • Ruth Robarts is closely watching an upcoming review of the district’s health insurance plans and pushing to ensure that performance goals for Rainwater include targeted gains for student achievement.
  • Johnny Winston says he’ll continue to seek additional revenue streams, including selling district land.

Read the full article here.

With respect to funding and new programs, the district spends a great deal on the controversial Reading Recovery program. The district also turned down millions in federal funds last year for the Reading First Program. Perhaps there are some opportunities to think differently with respect to curriculum and dollars in the district’s $329M+ budget, which increases annually.

Teacher Barb Williams offers her perspective on the expensive Reading Recovery program and the district’s language curriculum.

Board Candidate Maya Cole offers her thoughts on Transparency and the Budget

One thought on “2006-2007 MMSD Budget Comments”

  1. Heterogenous classes have been in place in MMSD for quite some time in grades K-8. The Sherman Middle School redesign implemented in Fall 2005 emphasized heterogenous classes. My daughter, Allie, is in 8th grade at Hamilton Middle School. With the exception of a class or two in math in 7th and 8th grades, my daughter’s classes, beginning in Kindergarten have been heterogenous. I see many positive social and academic reasons for heterogenous classes.
    The West Grade 10 core English classes follow on the heels of the West High Grade 9 core English classes which are heterogenous. The English classes are one of the outputs of a multi-year grant West High received several years ago.
    Why haven’t discussions and assessments of heterogenous classes been on the board’s agenda at the committee level? What models for heterogenous classes exist besides the “all in one” group? This would seem to me to be a topic to be undertaken first at the Performance and Achievement Committee long before 2006. Maybe I missed the public discussions at the board level and the board directions.
    One reason for heterogenous classes is improved academic achievement for all students, especially those students facing learning challenges. That’s an important goal/objective for the board to have as part of the Board’s overall goal/objective of improved student achievement (student learning). However, I have not seen heterogenous classes stated as a board goal/objective nor have I seen any ongoing board oversight of this strategy. What results have we seen in elementary school, in middle school? What results have we seen for different learners? How have heterogenous classes affected progress toward the Board’s priorities?
    Basically, where are the MMSD data that continue to drive the implementation of heterogenous classes? Where are the MMSD student data that supports this as the primary organization for learning, because all learners benefit from this organizational approach?
    Considerable information on this topic is in the literature about homogenous vs. heterogenous classes. As Pam Nash, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools, said earlier this fall at a parent meeting – the literature is 50/50 for/against heterogenous classes. What do MMSD data say about our children? Are more children excelling in this environment, are more children better prepared for post-high school education/careers. How are all our children doing? What are we learning, what should the next steps be?
    Perhaps, 2006 will be the year the School Board assumes a leadership role on this topic – MMSD is doing this because the School Board had made the decision that this was important for our students based upon the literature, administrative input, MMSD student data, public discussion, etc..

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