2007 / 2008 Budget Approved: School Board keeps Lindbergh open

Susan Troller:

Board members tussled over dozens of suggestions to try to find money to return various programs and services to the district that had been cut by the administration in an effort to balance the $339.6 million budget.
The administration had originally proposed about $8 million in cuts, including $2 million from special education aimed at helping students with speech or language problems, increased class size at the elementary level and closing Lindbergh Elementary and Black Hawk Middle School, and consolidating Marquette and Lapham.
The board also approved a district proposal to eliminate busing for five Catholic schools in the district, and offer parents a $450 subsidy to transport their children themselves, to save about $230,000. State statutes require that public schools provide transportation for all students in their district. Parents of students at other area private schools take the subsidy in lieu of busing.
Board member Lucy Mathiak and Superintendent Art Rainwater had several testy exchanges as Mathiak grilled administrators on their programs and expenses.
“I’m trying to understand why our district requires so many more people in teaching and learning than other districts,” Mathiak said.
“Our priorities since I’ve been superintendent are highly trained, highly skilled teachers in a small class. After that, we believe in highly trained, highly skilled teachers in front of a large class. We don’t believe in poorly trained teachers in small classes,” Rainwater said sharply as he defended the Madison district’s focus on professional development.
Board members also disagreed on how aggressively to use projected salary savings, an accounting method that predicts how many teachers will leave the district. Any shortfall would have to come out of the district’s equity fund, which some board members feel is dangerously low.

Andy Hall:

In a six-plus-hour meeting punctuated by flaring tempers, the board also found ways to stave off most proposed increases in elementary class sizes by raising fees and increasing projected savings in salaries for the 2007-08 school year.
The board also spared the district’s fifth-grade strings program from elimination.
The moves came as the board balanced the district’s $339.6 million budget by cutting $7.9 million from existing services and programs.
The budget finally was approved just after midnight on a 6-1 vote. Lucy Mathiak was the lone dissenter.
Board members voted 4-3 to consolidate Marquette and Lapham at Lapham, 1045 E. Dayton St., into a kindergarten through fifth-grade school, while rejecting a proposal from Superintendent Art Rainwater to close Lindbergh, 4500 Kennedy Road. Currently, Lapham hosts K-2 students while Marquette hosts grades three through five.
Rainwater also had proposed consolidating Black Hawk Middle School into Sherman and O’Keeffe middle schools, but that proposal wasn’t adopted.
Voting for the consolidation of Marquette and Lapham, to save $522,000, were Lawrie Kobza, Arlene Silveira, Beth Moss and Maya Cole. Opposing the measure were Johnny Winston Jr., Carol Carstensen and Mathiak.


The Madison school board approved the consolidation of Marquette and Lapham elementary schools under next year’s budget. The two schools will combine under Lapham’s roof, reported WISC-TV.
Under the budget, Marquette will be used for alternative education programs.
The school board also approved combining all high school boys golf teams into two and elminated bussing to Wright and Spring Harbor charter schools.
The moves are all a part of cutting the budget by more than $7 million.
Many of those linked to affected schools have loudly spoken out in opposition to the closings, and Monday was no exception. Parents and students put their concerns in writing outside the Doyle Administration Building — children writing in chalk on the ground — hoping to catch the eye of board members before the meeting inside.

Brenda Konkel, TJ Mertz and Paul Soglin have more. Paul mentioned:

“From the debate, the motions and the votes, it seems that all of the rancor over ideological splits in the Madison Metropolitan School Board is irrelevant” given the vote to consolidate Marquette and Lapham schools

I think the current diversity of viewpoints on the Madison School Board is healthy. Rewind the clock three years and imagine how some of these issues might have played out. Would there have been a public discussion? Would the vote have been 6 – 1, or ? One of the reasons the “spending gap” in the MMSD’s $339.6M+ budget was larger this year is due to the Board and Administration’s public recognition of the structural deficit. The MMSD’s “equity” has declined by half over the past 7 years. More from Channel3000.com.

4 thoughts on “2007 / 2008 Budget Approved: School Board keeps Lindbergh open”

  1. I was just wondering….If we have so many positions that we do not need to fill why are they still on the books? How can the Board say they are cutting to the bone this budget then come up with 500,000 of payroll savings? Are we not filling Strings teachers, Principals, Clerical, Maintenance? What programs are not getting all the needed support because we are not hiring the staff required? To keep the strings program, Athletic directors are more kids now in a study hall because we are saving someones paycheck instead of offering classes?
    One long time Board member eludes that we have been saving money by not filling jobs in a timely fashion for years- which programs and how many students does this impact ea year?….Am I the only one that wonders this?

  2. I can understand your confusion about capacity at Lapham as a K-5 school. I did a similar double take in late March.
    In a 3/19/2007 presentation to the board the capacity at Lapham K-5 was stated as 564-583 with reduced class size and 558-581 without reduced class size. They achieve this by having two classes with reduced size (K or 1) share a large (>1000 sq ft) room. Lapham has 6 of these large classrooms.
    Prior to this the proposed capacity for Lapham K-5 was described as 450 or 500 depending upon the chart/bullet in a 2/12/2007 presentation and as 456-564 in a 2/6/2007 presentation.
    The differences principally come from whether doubling classes in the larger rooms is used or not.
    For context – The combined enrollment of Lapham and Marquette from the 3rd Friday September 2006 was 463. The reported projection to 2011-12 is 491, based upon students in the attendance area – which was 427 from the 3rd Friday count. Applying the 64 increase to actual enrolled suggests 2011-12 enrollment may be as high as 527.
    All of these numbers exclude pre-K, which was 35 at the 3rd Friday September 2005. With no change in pre-K, enrollment may be 563 by 2011-12 – at capacity.
    If growth continues as projected on the Isthmus, the board will be looking to move pre-K and/or reassign boundaries in the not too distant future.

  3. I agree that there is a lot not to like about the consolidation of Marquette-Lapham, as well as many of the other terrible budget cuts that were made last night. However, I think the final decision was probably reasonable under the circumstances, and I think the BOE members all did a heroic and honorable job with a lousy situation.
    Here are the observations that I truly believe should balance the negatives:
    – M-L are still one school community, and the neighborhood will still have a neighborhood school at both sites (O’Keefe at the Marquette site). The M-L kids are not being moved to an entirely different neighborhood for school (like closing a school and sending them to, for example, Lowell), but rather being combined into one building that is very similar to the current situation at other schools.
    – Many of the west side schools are over official capacity. Where there are large spaces, schools do put two classes, separating them with lofts and barriers, and team teaching where appropriate.
    – The MMSD formulas for determining building capacity include leaving one room vacant as flex/surge space.
    – I have heard concerns about the building and playground. But this building is not an outlyer. Many of the classrooms and the gym at Randall school are in the basement. (Randall school building is over 100 years old, and many things have been crammed and retrofitted to meet need.)
    – The playgrounds at both F-R are small and mostly blacktop. The PTO is raising $ now to put in equipment that is better for older kids.
    By way of perspective, the Randall school neighbhorhood used to have Hoyt elementary school on the west end. Several years ago the MMSD closed it and reassigned the kids to Randall, and then paired Randall with Franklin. Hoyt now houses MSCR. But the neighbhorhood survived and thrives and loves F-R, even though it is much farther than Hoyt.
    I know many people were hoping that the BOE would refrain from making these kinds of cuts in hopes of passing a referendum next spring. I support a future referendum, as well as needed changes in state law. However, I learned from my past experience working hard to pass the operating referendum that failed two years ago: many skeptical voters in the MMSD expect and actually want to see difficult and politically unpopular decisions being made by the Boe before they will believe that more money is really needed. I really don’t think we could sell a referendum in the spring without having shown these kinds of skeptics what the BOE can and will do under the current budget circumstances. So now, we have the M-L consolidation, increased class sizes in 10 schools, and many other program cut backs to show. Hopefully, the voters will decide to stop this bleeding.

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