New taxpayer supported Madison K-12 superintendent to prioritize students’ mental, emotional health

Scott Girard:

The new Madison Metropolitan School District superintendent stressed the importance of community buy-in during his introductory press conferenceWednesday.

Carlton Jenkins, hired in early July, began in the role Aug. 4. He said he will focus on improving reading abilities, improving student mental health and rebuilding trust during his first year on the job, stressing the importance of conversations with the community.

“I’m not saying that we’re going to agree on everything,” Jenkins said. But “we’re not going to shy away from having tough conversations.”

Amid the ongoing pandemic, the former Memorial High School associate principal said social and emotional learning for students will be especially important, and the “community’s going to be big during this first year” in supporting students’ needs.

The board hired Jenkins over the other finalist, Carol Kelley of Oak Park School District 97 in Illinois, in its second search of the school year. Its choice from the first search, Matthew Gutierrez, rescinded his acceptance and chose to remain in his Texas school district to help it recover from the pandemic.

Logan Wroge:

A self-described “data geek,” Jenkins said he enjoys using the little bit of free time he has reading, spending time in the mountains and playing with his grandson.

“I would like to say thank you to the Madison community for demonstrating trust in myself to lead this wonderful staff as we continue on our journey and try to build on the momentum that has already started here,” Jenkins said.

New school year

As a top priority, Jenkins said Madison needs to “unapologetically” look at ways to improve reading outcomes in a district with wide racial achievement gaps; 9% of Black students scored proficient or higher in reading on a state exam in 2018-19 compared with 57% of white students.

Costs continue to grow for local, state and federal taxpayers in the K-12 space, as well:

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

Madison property taxes are 22% more than Middleton’s for a comparable home, based on this comparison of 2017 sales.

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

(Note: “Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a fall 2019 referendum presentation.)

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [July, 2020]

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21
1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +15.9% +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +17.8% +19.0%(increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 202
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (

– via a kind reader (July 9, 2020 update).

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration