2006 / 2007 Madison School Board & Committee Goals

The Madison School Board meets June 19, 2006 @ 5:00p.m. to discuss their 2006 / 2007 goals for our $332M+ schools. A friend wondered what goals readers have in mind.
I thought it might be useful to consider the Board’s goals in light of the District’s strategic plan [450K pdf]:

  1. Instructional Excellence
    Improving student achievement
    Offering challenging, diverse and contemporary curriculum and instruction.
  2. Student Support
    Assuring a safe, respectful and welcoming learning environment.
  3. Staff Effectiveness
    Recruiting, developing and retaining a highly competent workforce that reflects the diversity of our students.
  4. Home and Community Partnerships
    Strengthening community and family partnerships, and communication.
  5. Fiscal Responsibility
    Using resources efficiently and strategically.

My thoughts are below:

  1. World Class Curriculum:
    Does the MMSD use it’s $332M+ budget for 24,490 students to provide the best possible curriculum to our next generation? There certainly have been some questions, particularly with respect to Math and the growing movement toward a one size fits all curriculum ala West’s English 10. Instructional excellence is the District’s #1 strategic priority. It would also be useful to discuss the use of online learning tools, particularly for curriculum that is in danger of being eliminated due to staffing challenges, or those that are not currently offered at all schools, such as Mandarin.
  2. Budget Transparency:
    Create a community working group that includes a variety of skills such as investment professionals (those who know how to read and explain financial statements) and forensic auditors. The goal is to create an understandable, easy to use budget model. This model should include year over year comparisons, individual school budgets and a method to evaluate spending effectiveness.
  3. Health Care Costs:
    Create and publish online a matrix comparing benefit packages, providers and costs. Chat with a number of local organizations, including Dane County, UW, MATC, AmFam, Oscar Meyer, TDS, General Casualty, City of Madison and the State regarding their approach to these questions and publish the results.
    Invite local health care firms/insurance brokerages to give an overview of their services and what the financial options are for an organization the size of MMSD. Perhaps they can provide 3 scenarios with dollars and benefits
    I would also invite someone to come in and talk about the emerging Health Savings Accounts. Self Insurance up to a point might also be discussed.
    Perhaps begin each meeting with a 10 year chart of the MMSD’s health care expenditures and a discussion of what it means to teachers (total compensation, including benefit/salary tradeoffs) and taxpayers. Discuss what happens if nothing changes.
    Review Denver’s recent pay for performance teacher agreement along with the accompanying tax increase used to fund it. Determine if there are aspects of this program that make sense here.

  4. Obviously, the Boards goals must be reflected in the Superintendent’s goals and review, including principal oversight and review.

4 thoughts on “2006 / 2007 Madison School Board & Committee Goals”

  1. If the MMSD ever expects all students to read at grade level by the end of the third grade, it must find an early reading intervention curriculum that delivers better than a 60% success rate. To me, that would be the #1 goal the Performance and Achievement Committee.
    Here’s an even more ambitious possiblity: All MMSD students can read at a 10th grade level when they graduate.

  2. The MMSD Board of Education also has a Philosophy of Education – http://www.madison.k12.wi.us/policies/philosophy.htm. There are a number of points, I’ve copied the philosophy on instruction and participation below:
    Instruction – The instructional program of the Madison Metropolitan School District provides for each pupil an opportunity:
    1. To learn the tool subjects–
    1. To communicate adequately through the development of skills in reading, spelling, writing, and speaking the English language;
    2. To develop skills in mathematics and science;
    3. To provide for realistic study of social problems, such as conservation, labor and management, racial tolerance, and world peace.
    2. To cultivate the fine arts (music, art, drama, and dance);
    3. To learn foreign languages in order to acquire usable skills and gain a greater understanding of other cultural backgrounds;
    4. To acquire through instruction the understanding of health and wellness concepts and to practice in concert with all school employees such patterns of behavior as will lead to personal health and wellness.
    5. To understand the importance of developing leisure appreciations and skills throughout one’s lifetime by providing opportunities to participate in a wide variety of school-related recreational activities, to explore broad community recreation resources, and to participate in related classroom discussion, activities, or projects.
    6. To obtain specialized assistance should s/he experience problems of an educational, emotional, social or vocational nature which, unless corrected, may lead to unsatisfactory adjustment.
    7. To develop appropriate understandings and skills in such areas as business education and the practical arts needed for everyday life and entry into post high school employment or education;
    8. To develop the power of independent and constructive thinking by improving skills in securing information and by learning to evaluate and organize these facts in the solution of problems.
    9. To cultivate desirable attitudes, appreciations, and habits while developing skills and assimilating information.
    10. To develop creative abilities so that each child realizes her/his own possibilities and makes her/his contribution to society.
    11. To develop faith in our future by understanding and appreciating the history and geography of our nation and our world and their social and political systems.
    Participation and Ideas – To the greatest extent possible, the Madison Metropolitan School District will seek the participation and ideas of citizens, students, parents, staff members, and administrators. The BOARD, administrators, and building principals are encouraged to seek broad participation and advice from those who will be affected by policy or administrative decisions.

  3. Thank you for the discussion of committee goals. One piece that was not as visible to me before I joined the board, was the role of the board president in determining when committees meet and what is on the agenda. For example, I have been trying to schedule a meeting of the Parternship Committee since late May. Because the board president controls the schedule, our first meeting will note take place until July 10.
    While the president’s desire to not have us meet before the June 19 meeting to talk about priorities and options is somewhat understandable (I am out of town late June), I confess that I am not used to structures where the board president has the level of control over what are presumably semi-autonomous committees as is the case for MMSD.
    I may have to take back some of the things that I said during the campaign about lack of active and functioning committees, and place more of the responsibility on the board presidents (past and present) than on the committee chairs.

  4. The abuse of the position of the Board president has been a problem for some time. Several current and previous board members have commented on the (in)ability to place items on the agenda for discussions and consideration ($2M reading grant, for example).
    Fundamentally, I believe the problem is the interpretation of the president’s “powers”. The board, as currently constituted, could modify the written policies to reflect what should be the appropriate interpretation.
    The powers of the president should be interpreted as fundamentally ministerial, including the scheduling of committee meetings. The abuse of authority comes through interpreting the authority as substantive.
    In most cases, the president’s authority is understood to be ministerial. The president is required to sign documents, accept documents on behalf of the MMSD — purely ministerial.
    Scheduling of committee meetings, placing items on the agenda are two such “powers” that should be ministerial. Likewise, the committee chairperson’s power should also be fundamentally ministerial.

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