Proposed Single sex charter school (Madison Prep) funding doesn’t add up

Susan Troller:

There’s been plenty of buzz — much of it positive — surrounding a proposed single sex charter school aimed at improving the academic performance of Madison minority students. Yet a closer look at the financing projections for the Madison Preparatory Academy, starting with the $300,000 the proposal notes is coming from the Madison Community Foundation, raises some questions,
“I have no idea where they got that figure,” says Kathleen Woit, president of the foundation, when asked about the funding. “No, we have not committed to that. We’ll have to get this straightened out.”
The preliminary proposal, presented to the Madison School Board’s Planning and Development Committee Dec. 6, also notes that $1.35 million would be available in six grants of $225,000 through the state Department of Public Instruction’s charter school federal start-up fund. That’s more than twice what is allowable for a school of Madison Prep’s size, and suggests the school would be receiving both implementation and planning grants in two of the four years the school is eligible for start-up money.
“It looks like they are double counting,” says Robert Soldner, director of School Management Services for the Department of Public Instruction. Soldner says that DPI typically helps charters get up and running with several years of funding, starting with a planning grant the first year, an implementation grant the second year and extensions of the implementation grants possible in the next couple of years of operation. Charter schools are not eligible for planning and implementation grants at the same time.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, here.

9 thoughts on “Proposed Single sex charter school (Madison Prep) funding doesn’t add up”

  1. I’d be very interested in hearing what the Board members think about the information in this article. It’s looking more and more like Kaleem Caire and the Urban League can talk the talk but can’t walk the walk. We all agree on the problem re: achievement gap, but as usual, the devil is in the details…and we need solid details from the Board and not the Urban League if anyone expects the community (and taxpayers) to support the idea of Madison Prep.
    Or, as some have aptly pointed out, this idea will need to be realized as a private prep school.

  2. The budget numbers for the Badger Rock charter were off, too. That is why the language was added to limit MMSD financial liability in the event that projected fund raising does not pay play out as expected. The same questions and standards will apply to Madison Prep when we are at a stage that is much more than an initial conversation.
    That said, I would love to see the same people who are attacking the concept for a Madison Prep academy, devote the same level of energy and concern to pushing MMSD on the achievement gap. You know, walk the walk on an ongoing basis. Sincerely.

  3. A lot of people have walked the walk and they’ve hit the brick wall in terms of how the MMSD is succeeding (or failing). What I’m hearing is that folks would love to see the Madison Prep idea succeed, without taking away the precious resources other schools are already desperate for. If Kaleem can make this work, great, but it’s still incumbent upon our elected board to thoroughly vet every charter proposal so they don’t do just that- take away precious resources for the other 95% of kids who are suffering from the achievement gap. I am glad to see the MMSD’s financial liability limited, especially when outside entities want taxpayer dollars without any type of track record for success. Otherwise, it’s just snake oil sales peddlers taking shots in the dark. I’m guessing this process has a long ways to go?

  4. Both of these charter schools propose child to teacher ratios of 1:17 or 18. That is a proven method to improve learning. Why can’t we just go back to smaller class sizes? If money can be found to do these charters, why can’t money be found so all kids can have smaller class sizes?

  5. We need to be clear about some basic facts:
    1) We have two intriquing proposals that would provide education to students in radically different ways.
    2) One proposal, Badger Rock, was approved last night. The other, Madison Prep, has just started the process of preparing a proposal for consideration by the board.
    3) The Badger Rock Proposal and the Madison Prep initial document both call for significant fundraising. Whether the projected levels of private funding are achieved or remain an optimistic hope, remains to be seen.
    4) Last night, with strong support from several other board members, I introduced an amendment to the motion approving Badger Rock. That amendment called for limits to district financial liability should fundraising efforts fail. In speaking to that issue, several of us commented on the need to consider all 24,000 MMSD students, and to be careful that we don’t hurt the many while privileging the few.
    In short. the board majority has taken a position that we cannot treat hopes to raise funds as having raised funds. The majority also has indicated that we will do whatever we can to help organizers succeed in raising money

  6. Thanks, Lucy for taking the time to comment. I appreciate the Board’s efforts to support new, charter initiatives and keep an eye on spending exposure, particularly after a significant property tax hike this year.
    One question: do you believe that current initiatives and existing schools (often involving much, much larger amounts of money) receive the same scrutiny as the charter proposals, particularly one with significant organizational change such as Madison Prep?
    I’m thinking, in one example, of the extensive time you spent on this:

  7. Lucy,
    I don’t think I’ve heard anyone *attacking* the concept for Madison prep. There are a number of us who have questions, (mostly about the costs involved to the district.) But asking questions is not the same as attacking, in my opinion.
    I don’t think it is fair for you to accuse us of not “walking the walk.” That’s a pretty low blow for those of us who have spent years devoting an enormous amount of our energy, time and money directly to helping some of the poorest schools in the district.
    We all have the same goal: a great education for EVERY kid in Madison.

  8. From what I can tell, most of the concerns about this proposal are being raised by exactly those members of the community who are walking the walk and doing so in circumstances made more difficult by yearly administration proposals to cut programs that support the students whose “achievement” results contribute to the statistics quoted freely and out-of-context by Mr. Caire on a regular basis. We are the same people who show up to Board and committee meetings begging you to maintain after school and summer programming, small class sizes, and staff positions and programs that support the most vulnerable and needy students. We are the same people who volunteer hundreds and hundreds of hours in the highest poverty schools doing what we can to bring more resources in to support family engagement and better communication between school and home. Unlike MMSD staff and Board members, we are not paid to do this as our job. We do this because we care about our kids as well as our neighbors’ kids and the society in which they are growing up. We do this because we believe that public education is one of the last bastions of truly inclusive civic life in this country, and we must do whatever we can to ensure that our kids have equal access to the resources our District and community has committed to them.
    Madison Prep’s numbers aren’t just “off,” they were completely fabricated. Mr. Caire has been saying that the Board must treat this proposal exactly as it treated the Badger Rock proposal, and Ms. Mathiak appears to agree. The fact is, these proposals are extremely different in some significant ways including, but not limited to:
    1) instrumentality/non-instrumentality
    2) actually committed institutional and grant support prior to initial Board approval for DPI planning grant application
    3) the need the proposals address and the extent to which MMSD is already working on them or has the already existing capacity to do so
    4) gender discrimination
    5) the presence (or absence) of pedagogical and curriculum models that have been proven to be effective for the targeted population
    6) the involvement of secret societies and the military
    I was happy to hear Mr. Hughes say at the 12/13 Board meeting that they should consider each proposal on its own merits. I trust that the majority of the Board is thinking the same way.

Comments are closed.