On the Madison School District’s “Achievement Gap” Plan and Looming Superintendent Departure

Matthew DeFour:

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s impending departure raises questions about the future of this year’s biggest budget initiative: the School District’s $49 million achievement gap plan.
“It’s a big question mark” whether a new superintendent will want to adopt the plan or make changes, said Michael Johnson, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County.
“I don’t think (the School Board) should adopt the whole plan and hand it over to the new superintendent,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t take a job if a board of directors said, ‘Here’s the plan we came up with and want you to execute.'”
Nerad said Friday he plans to accept a superintendent job offer in Birmingham, Mich., and leave Madison by September.

On Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad & the Birmingham (MI) Job

Observer & Eccentric:

If you judge the process by the questions, it would appear Dr. Daniel Nerad has the edge in being offered the job as the next superintendent for Birmingham Schools.
Nerad is the Madison School District superintendent in Wisconsin and one of two finalists for the Birmingham job. The other person is Robert Shaner, executive director of instruction and technology at the Warren Consolidated district.
Nerad has been superintendent for Madison Schools since 2008. Before that, he spent seven years as the superintendent for the Green Bay Area Public Schools. Shaner has less than a year of administrative experience.

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s Birmingham Candidate Response

Laura Hoser:

How does a school district know when it has an effective program?
This can be a struggle for school districts, Nerad said, but programs need to be evaluated over time, districts need effective ways to collect data, and there needs to be systems in place that allow teachers to collaborate around data and solve problems.
What is the role of principals, the school board and superintendent in terms of innovation and curriculum development?
According to Nerad, the school board ensures there are enough resources for curriculum development and innovation, the superintendent is responsible for outlining what that curriculum will look like, while schools have the responsibility to implement curriculum in the way that’s best for each building.
What is your budgeting process and how would you go about cutting money from Birmingham’s budget?
Budgeting has to be a year-round process, Nerad said, and should he be hired, he would go to district stakeholders — whether they be parents, teachers or community members — and ask: what are your priorities?
How would you engage the rest of the Birmingham community, including the local business community?
Nerad said he would work with the district public relations office to focus heavily on engagement and outreach. “I do believe in putting a face on the superintendency,” he said.
How did you build consensus on an important issue?
When trying to reach consensus on tough issues, Nerad said he uses voting procedures and works to ensure people are heard. “My whole life has been dedicated to those kinds of practices.”
How do you judge whether a school board is doing a good job?
According to Nerad, the school board should be a model for the entire district.
“I believe if the superintendent evaluates the board, the board should evaluate itself,” Nerad said. “If we want our staff to grow, we have to model that kind of commitment. It’s about the whole organization getting better, from the superintendent to the board to teachers to support staff.”

Much more on outgoing Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad, here.
A quick comparison of Birmingham and Madison schools.

Nancy Sebring resigns from Omaha superintendent job

Mary Stegmeir & Jens Manuel Krogstad:

In a stunning reversal of fortune, former Des Moines Superintendent Nancy Sebring went from presiding over Iowa’s largest school district to losing a new job she had landed to lead the Omaha schools, after disclosure she had used Des Moines school equipment to send and receive sexually explicit emails.
The Omaha school board voted Saturday afternoon without discussion to accept her resignation from the job she was to start July 1.
The vote capped a rapid-fire series of developments that unfolded in less than 20 hours:
8:46 p.m. Friday: The Des Moines Register publishes an online story reporting that Sebring’s abrupt, earlier-than-scheduled departure from the Des Moines district May 10 came after she was confronted by school board members about the discovery of the explicit emails.

Outgoing Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad interviewed for the Omaha position.

Dan Nerad a Semi-Finalist for the Birmingham, MI Schools Superintendent; District spends about 10% less per student than Madison

Pat Schneider:

Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad made the cut Saturday to become one of two finalists for the top job at a school district in suburban Detroit, according to an online report.
Nerad was selected as a finalist for superintendent of the Birmingham Public Schools at a special Saturday session of the School Board, the Birmingham Patch reports.
He apparently made a big impression on school board members in Michigan, particularly with his handling of controversy over the race-based achievement gap in Madison schools.

Much more on Dan Nerad, here.
A few comparisons:
Birmingham’s 2011-2012 budget is $107,251,333 for “more than 8000 students”, or roughly $13,406/student. That is about 10% less than Madison’s $14,858.40/student.
Birmingham’s per capita income is $69,151, more than double Madison’s $29,782. Birmingham’s median household income is $101,529 while Madison’s is nearly half: $52,550.
Birmingham had 6 national merit semi-finalists this past year while Madison featured 41. Michigan’s 209 cut score was identical to Wisconsin’s this past year.
Madison continues to spend more per student than most American school districts.

From big-city superintendent to supporter of vouchers and charters – Arlene Ackerman, podcastED

Ron Matus:

Last fall, Arlene Ackerman, the former schools superintendent in Philadelphia, made a stunning announcement for someone of her status. In a newspaper op-ed, she forcefully came out in favor of expanded school choice options, including more charter schools and yes, even vouchers. “I’ve come to a sad realization,” she wrote. “Real reform will never come from within the system.”
In this redefinED podcast, Ackerman talks more about her evolution.
For years, she pushed change from the highest perches in K-12 education. Before Philly, she headed the school districts in Washington D.C. and San Francisco. She led the latter when it became a finalist for the prestigious Broad Prize, annually awarded to the best urban school district in the country, in 2005. But the kinds of sweeping reform needed to help poor and minority kids, she said, too often met with resistance from unions, politicians, vendors and others who benefited from not budging.

(in)Flexibility for Madison’s Next Superintendent?

The Madison School District Administration (PDF).
Two year administrator contracts have been the norm for some time – matching the term and perhaps benefits of the teacher union contracts. The composition of future teacher arrangements (more) may change in Madison, or not. Should the new Superintendent have flexibility in staffing?
What are the student achievement implications of continuing this “status quo” or “same service” practice? Perhaps the District’s long standing reading problems are a place to think differently.
UPDATE, via several kind readers:
I compared Madison’s proposed Administrator contract hours (PDF) with Sun Prairie’s HR document and Waunakee’s HR guidelines. The result is the chart below:

I’ve emailed the local school board seeking additional information and will post if and when I receive a response. Perhaps summer and vacation days are different between the Districts? Or, not.

Superintendents: Lightning Challenge for School Reformer

David Wessel:

Paul Vallas made his mark in education-reform circles as school superintendent in the big cities of Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans, post-Katrina. Now the superstar superintendent is trying to turn around the schools in much smaller Bridgeport, Conn.–in 150 days or so.
This is more than a curiosity: America’s economic future depends on fixing its public schools. And, as Mr. Vallas observes, “There are a lot of Bridgeports”–small, de-industrialized, cash-short cities with failing schools.
If he succeeds here–within “existing financial constraints,” as he puts it, and with strong unions–Bridgeport can inspire others. “There are models for school improvement that don’t cost $1 million a school,” Mr. Vallas argues, a not-so-subtle swipe at the cost of experiments elsewhere.
The saga of schools in Bridgeport (pop. 144,229), a poor city amid the wealth of Fairfield County, is too long for this space. The short version: For nearly a decade, the state has flunked the 20,250-student, 37-school system. Only 10% of tenth graders meet state math and reading standards. At the best-performing of the city’s three high schools, the dropout rate is 23%; at the worst, 45%.
For years, members of the elected school board were at odds both with each other and with the city. The city hasn’t increased school funding for four years.In July, with quiet backing from the mayor, governor and wealthy education-reform enthusiasts, the school board took the extraordinary step of voting itself out of existence and asked the state to take over. A new state-appointed board fired the superintendent and, in December, signed Mr. Vallas to a one-year contract, raising money from private donors whose identities weren’t disclosed to pay his $229,000 salary and settle with his predecessor. But in February, the state Supreme Court declared the takeover illegal, and ordered a special election for a new school board. The date has yet to be set.

Bridgeport’s 2010-2011 budget spent $215,843,895 for “more than” 21,000 students = about $10,278/student. Madison spent $14,858.40/student during the 2011-2012 budget cycle.

Omaha’s new Superintendent no Stranger to Controversy

Deena Winter:

Omaha’s new school superintendent is no stranger to controversy, having survived nepotism charges as the schools’ chief in Des Moines.
Nancy Sebring’s tenure presiding over 31,000 Des Moines students since 2006 has been controversial at times – particularly when her twin sister was hired as director of Des Moines’ first charter school 15 months ago.
Despite questions about how her sister got the job, Sebring has said she had nothing to do with an advisory board’s decision. The charter school’s launch has been rocky. It opened six months behind schedule and enrollment has not met projections, with 40 percent of students leaving its first year. The school has not provided quarterly reports as required and its budget is nearly twice as big as projected, according to the Des Moines Register.

4.1.2012 from Omaha: Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad: Narrowing gap a work in progress in Madison

Joe Dejka:

The push to raise achievement for minority and low-income students in Madison Metropolitan School District remains “a work in progress,” said Superintendent Daniel Nerad.
Work has been done on Nerad’s watch, such as drafting a new strategic plan and a multifaceted, $106 million proposal for programs aimed at shrinking test score gaps between students of different races and income levels.
As for results, Nerad and Madison school board member Ed Hughes say there hasn’t been enough progress.
“We certainly haven’t seen, overall, the kind of improvement that we would like to see in reducing the achievement gap,” Hughes said. “But we need to look at whether the steps are being put in place that would give us some hope or confidence that we will see those gaps narrowing in the future.”
Hughes thinks Madison is on the right track.


In my view, the status quo approach to Madison’s long lived reading challenges refutes Mr. Hughes assertion that the District is on the right track. Matt DeFour’s article:

Overall student performance improved in math and dipped slightly in reading across Wisconsin compared with last year, while in Madison scores declined in all tested subjects.

Perhaps change is indeed coming, from a state level initiative on reading.
A look at the numbers:
Omaha spends substantially less per student than Madison. The Omaha 2011-2012 adopted budget will spend 468,946,264 for 46,000 students: $10,194.48/student. Madison’s 2011-2012 budget spends $369,394,753 for 24,861 = $14,858.40/student, 31.4% more than Omaha…. Green Bay (Superintendent Nerad’s former position) spent about 10% less than Madison, per student.

Oh, the Places We Go, Madison Superintendents…


Assistant superintendent Art Rainwater was elevated (no one else applied) to Superintendent when Cheryl Wilhoyte was pushed out. Perhaps Madison will think different this time and look outside the traditional, credentialed Superintendent candidates. The District has much work to do – quickly – on the basics, reading/writing, math and science. A steady diet of reading recovery and connected math along with above average spending of nearly $15k/student per year has not changed student achievement.

Madison School Board rates Superintendent Nerad barely ‘proficient’;

Matthew DeFour:

If Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s job performance were judged like a student taking the state achievement test, he would score barely proficient, according to the Madison School Board’s most recent evaluation.
The evaluation, completed last month and released to the State Journal under the state’s Open Records Law, reveals the School Board’s divided view of Nerad’s performance.
School Board President James Howard said he expects the board to vote later this month on whether to extend Nerad’s contract beyond June 2013. The decision has been delayed as Nerad’s achievement gap plan is reviewed by the public, Howard said.
Soon after that plan was proposed last month, Howard said he would support extending Nerad’s contract. Now, Howard says he is uncertain how he’ll vote.
“It’s probably a toss-up,” he said. “There’s a lot of issues on the table in Madison. It’s time to resolve them. All this kicking-the-can-down-the-road stuff has to stop.”
Nerad said he has always welcomed feedback on how he can improve as a leader.

Related: Notes and links on Madison Superintendent hires since 1992.

Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater’s recent public announcement that he plans to retire in 2008 presents an opportunity to look back at previous searches as well as the K-12 climate during those events. Fortunately, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, we can quickly lookup information from the recent past.
The Madison School District’s two most recent Superintendent hires were Cheryl Wilhoyte [Clusty] and Art Rainwater [Clusty]. Art came to Madison from Kansas City, a district which, under court order, dramatically increased spending by “throwing money at their schools”, according to Paul Ciotti:

2008 Madison Superintendent candidate public appearances:

The Madison Superintendent position’s success is subject to a number of factors, including: the 182 page Madison Teachers, Inc. contract, which may become the District’s handbook (Seniority notes and links)…, state and federal laws, hiring practices, teacher content knowledge, the School Board, lobbying and community economic conditions (tax increase environment) among others.
Superintendent Nerad’s reign has certainly been far more open about critical issues such as reading, math and open enrollment than his predecessor (some board members have certainly been active with respect to improvement and accountability). The strings program has also not been under an annual assault, lately. That said, changing anything in a large organization, not to mention a school district spending nearly $15,000 per student is difficult, as Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman pointed out in 2009.
Would things improve if a new Superintendent enters the scene? Well, in this case, it is useful to take a look at the District’s recent history. In my view, diffused governance in the form of more independent charter schools and perhaps a series of smaller Districts, possibly organized around the high schools might make a difference. I also think the District must focus on just a few things, namely reading/writing, math and science. Change is coming to our agrarian era school model (or, perhaps the Frederick Taylor manufacturing model is more appropriate). Ideally, Madison, given its unparalleled tax and intellectual base should lead the way.
Perhaps we might even see the local Teachers union authorize charters as they are doing in Minneapolis.

Madison Schools Superintendent Nerad unveils $12.4 million plan to close school achievement gap

Matthew DeFour:

Altogether, Nerad makes about 40 recommendations in six categories — instruction, college and career readiness, culturally relevant practices, school environment, family engagement and staff diversity.
“The plan is based on the view that there isn’t one thing alone the school district can do to eliminate achievement gaps,” Nerad said. “We’re attempting to be comprehensive with the proposal.”
The plan’s projected cost for next year is $12.4 million, which Nerad is recommending come from the district’s untapped property taxing authority under state-imposed limits. The amount includes adding about 67.5 positions, including behavioral support staff, reading specialists and parent liaisons.
Some recommendations wouldn’t take effect until future years. The district estimates they will cost $20.9 million in 2013-14 and $26.6 million by 2016-17. The district doesn’t have the authority to raise property taxes by that amount, though Nerad said part of the discussion in coming months will involve whether the private and nonprofit sectors can help fund the strategies.
“We’re going to have to struggle through the conversation of how to get it done,” Nerad said.


Listen to most of the speech via this 25mb .mp3 file.

School superintendents’ bonuses may be ‘an issue from the public’s point of view’

Matthew DeFour:

Next year, Verona superintendent Dean Gorrell is in line to collect a $50,000 longevity bonus on top of his $140,000 salary.
In 2014, Madison superintendent Dan Nerad qualifies for a $37,500 payment for six years of service, which like Gorrell’s would be paid into a retirement account. Nerad already receives an annual $10,000 payment into his retirement account, which is separate from his state pension and in addition to a $201,000 yearly salary.
And in 2017, Monona Grove superintendent Craig Gerlach can leave the job with an extra year’s salary, currently $150,000, paid into a retirement account over the following five years.
Over the past decade, such perks have been added to some Dane County superintendent contracts, even as, on average, their salary increases outpaced teacher pay hikes, according to data provided by the Department of Public Instruction.
“Any type of payout at that level is clearly going to be an issue from the public’s point of view,” Dale Knapp, research director at the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, said of the longevity payouts. “The problem becomes once these start getting into contracts, it becomes competition and then they become more prevalent.”
Adding bonus language to superintendent contracts became increasingly popular in recent years as school districts faced state-imposed rules on increasing employee compensation.

Perhaps, one day soon, teachers will have similar compensation freedom, or maybe, superintendents should operate under a one size fits all approach…
I’d rather see teacher freedom of movement, and compensation.

Madison Superintendent Nerad to unveil plan to help low-income minority students

Matthew DeFour:

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad said Wednesday he will unveil next month a new plan for improving the achievement of low-income minority students.
The plan will summarize the district’s current efforts as well as put forth new approaches, such as a longer school year and opening magnet schools, Nerad said.
Nerad discussed the plan in a meeting with the State Journal editorial board less than a week before the School Board is to vote on Madison Preparatory Academy, a proposed charter school geared toward low-income, minority students.
Nerad said he opposes the current proposal for Madison Prep primarily because it would violate the district’s contract with its teachers union, but that he agrees with the charter school’s supporters in that a new approach to close the achievement gap is necessary.
“I made a purposeful decision to not bring (a plan) forward over the past several months to not cloud the discussion about Madison Prep,” Nerad said. “It’s caused us to take a step back and say, ‘We’re doing a lot of things, but what else do we need to be doing?'”

Superintendent Nerad’s former District; Green Bay offers three “magnet options”:

Perth Amboy superintendent: Tenure laws keep bad apples in the classroom

Janine Walker Caffrey:

As the superintendent of the Perth Amboy school district, I am responsible for the education of more than 10,000 children.
We are fortunate to have the dedication of hundreds of committed and talented teachers and administrators who focus on education every day. But for 15 to 20 percent of each week, I shift focus from our students, who should be at the center of all we do, to certain adults who no longer have a place in our education system, yet simply can’t be dismissed.
There has been much discussion about teacher evaluation and its potential to improve learning in our classrooms. This issue focuses on things like linking teacher tenure and pay to student test scores, and so-called value-added data. There are many disagreements about these measures, but I believe we can agree on the fact that there are certain teachers who just should not be working with children. We don’t want teachers in our classrooms who talk explicitly about sexual acts, or who hit children, put soap in their mouths or curse at them. We certainly don’t want teachers who make repeated sexual advances to other teachers, do drugs at school or fly into rages for no apparent reason. I have active cases like these, and have returned almost all of these teachers to their positions.

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad Advocates Additional Federal Tax Dollar Spending & Borrowing via President Obama’s Proposed Jobs Bill

Matthew DeFour:

Madison Schools Superintendent Dan Nerad publicly touted President Barack Obama’s stalled jobs proposal Monday, saying it would help the School District pay for millions of dollars in needed maintenance projects.
“We either pay now, or we pay more at a much later date,” Nerad said at a press conference at West High School, which is due for about $17.4 million in maintenance projects over the next five years.
A School Board committee is reviewing maintenance projects identified in a 2010 study by Durrant Engineers that said the district may need to spend as much as $83.7 million over five years on projects not already included in the budget.
The committee is expected to make recommendations early next year. Nerad said the committee hasn’t decided yet whether to recommend another maintenance referendum. A 2004 referendum authorizing $20 million over five years ran out last year.

Federal tax receipts, spending and deficits, fiscal years 2007-2011, billions of dollars:







Outlays Deficit Deficit as a % of GDP
2007 $2,729 $161 1.2%
2008 $2,983 $459 3.2%
2009 $3,520 $1,416 10%
2010 $3,456 $1,294 8.9%
2011 $3,600 $1,298 8.6%

Source: Congressional Budget Office.
The most recent Madison School District maintenance referendum spending has come under scrutiny – though I’ve not seen any further discussion on this topic over the past year.
Related: Wisconsin state budget is bad for kids by Thomas Beebe:

“It’ll be OK,” Gov. Scott Walker said last winter when he announced a budget that snatched away more than $800 million in opportunities to learn from Wisconsin public school kids. “I’m giving you the tools to make it work.”
Well, the tools the governor gave local school districts are the right to force teachers to pay more toward their retirement, and the option to unilaterally require educators to kick in more for their health care. The problem is that the tools, along with any money some of them might have left over from federal jobs funds, are one-time solutions. These tools can’t be used again unless school districts ask teachers to give up even more of their take-home pay.
By law, all school districts have to balance their budgets. They always have, and always will. That’s not the point. The point is that the governor has hijacked the language. Educational accountability isn’t about balancing the budget, it’s about giving kids opportunities to grow up into good, contributing adults. That’s not what Gov. Walker wants to talk about.


The red line, here, is median real household income, as gleaned from the CPS, indexed to January 2000=100. It’s now at 89.4, which means that real incomes are more than 10% lower today than they were over a decade ago.
More striking still is the huge erosion in incomes over the course of the supposed “recovery” — the most recent two years, since the Great Recession ended. From January 2000 through the end of the recession, household incomes fluctuated, but basically stayed in a band within 2 percentage points either side of the 98 level. Once it had fallen to 96 when the recession ended, it would have been reasonable to assume some mean reversion at that point — that with the recovery it would fight its way back up towards 98 or even 100.
Instead, it fell off a cliff, and is now below 90.

Seattle Superintendent Evaluation PRONTO

Save Seattle Schools:

At the Board meeting of Wednesday, October 19, the Board will both introduce and adopt their Superintendent Evaluation Instrument.
It is, on the whole, a better considered evaluation tool than they have used before. It has some elements that I really like. It is also missing a few things that I would like to see it include.
I encourage you to read it for yourself and reach your own opinion. Then send that opinion to the Board within the next two days because that’s when they will be voting on it. So be quick about it.

Board evaluation of the Superintendent has been an issue locally, as well.

New Jersey Superintendents Call State Agency Ineffective

Winnie Hu:

Nearly three-quarters of New Jersey school superintendents said the state Education Department did not play an important role in helping districts raise students’ achievement or prepare graduates for college and careers, according to a survey the department released Monday.
Many superintendents criticized how the state set goals and evaluated districts’ progress and said they did not find school report cards or state and federal data requirements useful in improving students’ performance.
They also expressed dissatisfaction with the state’s handling of special-education services and its guidance on curriculum and instruction. For instance, 63 percent of superintendents said they had not found the department’s efforts helpful in improving math instruction, and 59 percent said the same of improving literacy.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Evers emerges as fierce advocate of schools in face of massive cuts, privatization efforts

Susan Troller:

About a dozen members of a bipartisan, mostly volunteer organization called Common Ground file into Superintendent Tony Evers’ utilitarian conference room in downtown Milwaukee. The group is exploring how to help Milwaukee’s beleaguered schools, and it has scheduled a meeting with the head of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as part of its research.
Tall, thin and gray haired, Evers has a boyish smile and a welcoming manner. He’s now in a white shirt and tie, sans the suit coat he wore to an earlier meeting with suburban school officials in Pewaukee.
Common Ground, a nonpartisan coalition that includes churches, nonprofits and labor unions, has come to Evers’ office today looking for advice on how best to direct its considerable resources toward helping Milwaukee students, whose performance in both traditional public schools and in taxpayer-funded voucher schools ranks at the bottom of major American cities.
After initial pleasantries and introductions are exchanged, Keisha Krumm, lead organizer for Common Ground, asks Evers a question. “At this stage we’re still researching what issue we will be focusing on. But we do want to know what you can do. What’s your power and influence?”

How does Wisconsin compare to other states and the world? Learn more at www.wisconsin2.org.

Charlotte’s New Superintendent

Eric Frazier:

Almost three weeks after Superintendent Peter Gorman’s resignation, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board on Tuesday bid him goodbye and named Chief Operating Officer Hugh Hattabaugh as interim leader.
Board members approved a separation agreement that effectively made the meeting Gorman’s last as superintendent, ending a five-year reign marked by rising test scores, budget cuts and aggressive reforms that sparked outcry from teachers.
Board members praised Gorman for increasing student achievement and managing a diverse, 135,000-student school system full of competing constituencies, even at the cost of increasingly personal criticisms leveled at him.

Rift between Kansas City school board, superintendent appears to be closing

Joe Robertson:

The chasm that had separated Superintendent John Covington and the Kansas City school board over charter and contract schools appears to be closing.
The board is now considering policy changes that would require the superintendent’s recommendation before it could bring independent schools into the district fold.
Until the change is approved, however, the leaders of a pair of civic groups are standing by letters sent to the board last week warning that they believed it had assumed authority that could return it to its micromanaging habits of old.
Board president Airick Leonard West said he wants the conversation to refocus on the district’s vision of a portfolio of schools that are held accountable for their performance.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Evers calls voucher expansion ‘morally wrong’ in memo to legislators; Tony Evers Needs a Reality Check on School Choice

Karen Herzog:

State Superintendent Tony Evers [SIS link] in a memo Monday urged the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to restore funding for public schools and work collaboratively to improve the quality of all Milwaukee schools before considering any voucher expansion.
“To spend hundreds of millions to expand a 20-year-old program that has not improved overall student achievement, while defunding public education, is morally wrong,” Evers said in the memo.
Gov. Scott Walker has proposed eliminating the income limits on participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, eliminating the enrollment cap and has proposed opening up private schools throughout Milwaukee County to accept vouchers from Milwaukee students. Walker has spoken of expanding the voucher program to other urban areas in the state, such as Racine, Green Bay and Beloit.
The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program was created to improve academic performance among low-income students who had limited access to high-performing schools. Low-income students use taxpayer money to attend private schools, including religious schools. Each voucher is worth $6,442. The program now is limited to 22,500 students; 20,189 are in the program this year.
However, after 20 years and spending over $1 billion, academic performance data and the enrollment history of the school choice program point to several “concerning trends,” Evers said in his analysis of voucher student enrollment, achievement, and projected cost for long-term expansion.
Low-income students in Milwaukee Public Schools have higher academic achievement, particularly in math, than their counterparts in choice schools. Evers cited this year’s Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts exams and the legislatively mandated University of Arkansas study, which showed significant numbers of choice students performing below average on reading and math.

Aaron Rodriguez:

At a press conference in Racine, DPI Superintendent Tony Evers gave his harshest criticism of school vouchers yet. Well beyond the typical quibbles over test scores and graduation rates, Evers claimed that school vouchers were de facto “morally wrong.” It’s not every day that a State Superintendent of education accuses an education-reform program of being immoral. In doing so, Tony Evers may have bitten off more than he could chew.
Calling a school voucher program morally wrong inculpates more than just the program, it inculpates parents, teachers, organizations, lawmakers, and a majority of Americans that endorse it. In fact, one could reasonably argue that Evers’ statement makes himself morally culpable since Milwaukee’s voucher program operates out of the Department of Public Instruction of which he is the head. What does it say about the character of a man that knowingly administers an immoral program out of his own department?
In short, Evers’ argument goes something like this: voucher programs drain public schools of their financial resources; drained resources hurt children academically; hurting children academically is morally wrong; ergo, voucher programs are morally wrong.

Philadelphia Deputy superintendent attended King High School private meeting

.com/philly/news/120557249.html”>Martha Woodall:

hiladelphia Deputy School Superintendent Leroy Nunery has found himself involved in a power struggle over control of Martin Luther King High School.
Nunery was at the closed-door meeting of State Rep. Dwight Evans, School Reform Commission Chairman Robert L. Archie Jr., and an official from Mosaica Turnaround Partners that prompted the Atlanta company to drop its plans to convert King into a charter school.
District spokeswoman Jamilah Fraser on Saturday confirmed information The Inquirer had obtained from sources inside and outside the district that Nunery was the unidentified “district representative” mentioned in a statement about the meeting March 16. The session took place right after the SRC voted, 3-0, to select Mosaica to run King in the fall.
The next day, Mosaica backed out of its plans to run the East Germantown school.
Nunery, Fraser said, did not speak at the private meeting and had no advance notice of it.

Louisiana Superintendent Paul Pastorek loses control of agenda to Internet


A case of poor timing landed state Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek in hot water with the House Appropriations Committee as he was testifying Wednesday about his agency’s budget.
Pastorek, whose cocksure manner and $377,000 annual pay package has rankled legislators in years past, told Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, early in the meeting that he planned to select a new superintendent for the Recovery School District “soon, very soon.” But Pastorek didn’t divulge to the committee members that he had tapped John White, deputy chancellor for New York City public schools, to take over the job held by Paul Vallas.
As Pastorek continued his testimony, lawmakers on the committee learned the truth, as the news of White’s selection was reported on NOLA.com. And that brought a rebuke from the courtly committee chairman Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, who reminded the superintendent that he was under oath when he was being questioned. “So you weren’t willing to share that? That you had made the selection?” Fannin asked.

Green Bay School Board should use different means to find new superintendent

Dan Linssen:

In mid-2008, after Dan Nerad’s departure, the Green Bay School Board granted a large salary concession to reel in successor Greg Maass as Green Bay School District superintendent.
Nerad’s final annual salary was $148,000. Maass required an increase to $184,000 (plus benefits, annuity contribution, car allowance and assorted expenses). Everyone anticipated a leader who would take the district to the next level. Instead, partway into his third year, he decides to “retire” to the East Coast. Coincidentally, an opening in the small, high-wealth Marblehead, Mass., school district suddenly catches his eye. Having optimized his Wisconsin retirement pension formula with three years of high salary, now Maass may draw that pension while collecting a similar salary in Marblehead. And Green Bay is back to square one.
Can’t blame Maass. Who doesn’t try to optimize his or her personal welfare within the rules and guidelines of the system? Thousands of former soldiers, police officers and other public employees collect pensions while pursuing late career ventures. Most economists argue that all humans make economically rational decisions, so why shouldn’t Maass? If we’re not happy with that arrangement then we should lobby our state Legislature for change.
Can’t blame the school board. It followed a traditional and thorough selection process. Members all had to rely on representations and intents expressed by the candidates interviewed. No doubt they all believed Maass would become a driver of educational improvement in the Green Bay district.

Nampa police: Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna threatened, vehicle vandalized

Idaho Press Tribune:

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s vehicle was vandalized overnight at his Nampa home and he and his family have received threats, he told police.
“Yes, he has made us aware of threats to him and family members and we are looking into those, and we are aware of those, and we are doing what we can to provide protection,” Nampa Police Deputy Chief Craig Kingsbury said.
On Saturday night, a man who identified himself as a teacher reportedly showed up at Luna’s mother’s home in Nampa in order to speak with her about the superintendent’s contentious education reform plan. Luna happened to be at his mother’s house at the time, Department of Education spokeswoman Melissa McGrath said.
“The man was very angry… the superintendent did feel threatened,” she said. The man eventually left after Luna spoke to him for several minutes. Luna told the man it was an inappropriate place and time, and later filed a police report, McGrath said.

Madison Superintendent Nerad calls on teachers to return to classroom

Gena Kittner:

Madison School District superintendent Dan Nerad called on teachers late Thursday to end their protest and return to the classroom.
“These job actions need to end,” Nerad said in an e-mail to families of students. “I want to assure you that we continue to examine our options to more quickly move back to normal school days.”
Madison schools are closed Friday for a third straight day. Nerad also apologized for the closures.
On Thursday, state and Madison teachers union leaders urged their members to report to the Capitol on Friday and Saturday for continued protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining proposal.
“Even though the Madison School District can only react to the group decisions of our teachers, I apologize to you for not being able to provide learning for the last three days to your students,” Nerad said.

Related: Judge denies Madison School District request to stop teacher sick-out and “Who Runs the Madison Schools?

Clips from Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s News Conference on Closed Schools & Teacher Job Action

Matthew DeFour: (watch the 15 minute conference here)

Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad discusses on Wednesday Gov. Scott Walker’s bill, teacher absences, and Madison Teachers Inc.


Dave Baskerville is right on the money: Wisconsin needs two big goals:

For Wisconsin, we only need two:
Raise our state’s per capita income to 10 percent above Minnesota’s by 2030.
In job and business creation over the next decade, Wisconsin is often predicted to be among the lowest 10 states. When I was a kid growing up in Madison, income in Wisconsin was some 10 percent higher than in Minnesota. Minnesota caught up to us in 1967, and now the average Minnesotan makes $4,500 more than the average Wisconsinite.
Lift the math, science and reading scores of all K-12, non-special education students in Wisconsin above world-class standards by 2030. (emphasis added)
Wisconsinites often believe we lose jobs because of lower wages elsewhere. In fact, it is often the abundance of skills (and subsidies and effort) that bring huge Intel research and development labs to Bangalore, Microsoft research centers to Beijing, and Advanced Micro Devices chip factories to Dresden.

Grow the economy (tax base) and significantly improve our schools….

Green Bay school superintendent proposals sought

Patti Zarling:

The Green Bay School Board agreed Monday to send requests to about 17 search companies — including the one used to recruit Superintendent Greg Maass — for proposals to guide its efforts to find a new school leader.
Maass announced last week he will leave his Green Bay post at the end of June. He plans to accept a similar position in Marblehead, Mass., pending background checks and contract negotiations. He’s been in Green Bay for three years.
Illinois-based Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, the recruitment company that the Green Bay board hired last time to conduct its search, said it would waive its consulting fee because Maass is leaving within five years, School Board president Jean Marsch said. The district paid the firm $22,000 and covered another $12,500 or so in additional expenses, for things such as advertising, travel and lodging, in the search for Maass, she said. The district still would be on the hook for the additional costs.
But members said they’d still like to hear what other search firms have to offer.

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad previous position was in Green Bay.

Nerad gets one-year extension as Madison schools superintendent

Matthew DeFour:

The Madison School Board approved a one-year extension of Superintendent Dan Nerad’s contract on a 5-2 vote Monday.
Board members Lucy Mathiak and Arlene Silveira voted against the extension. Maya Cole, Beth Moss, Ed Hughes, Marj Passman and James Howard voted to extend the contract through June 30, 2013.
Only Mathiak and Hughes spoke during the meeting. The board has been discussing Nerad’s contract in multiple closed-door meetings.
Mathiak didn’t address why she voted against the extension but said that she had reviewed board minutes, e-mails, notes of conversations and newspaper articles as she completed an evaluation that she received in December.

Q&A with Madison schools superintendent Dan Nerad

Matthew DeFour:

WSJ: What is Madison’s biggest challenge?
DN: Unless we get more of our kids to standards, children will not remain strong and the community will not remain strong. Our vision has to be about advancing learning for all kids while we work to address these very notable achievement gaps for certain groups of kids. It’s not an either-or. It’s not a zero sum. That’s why I believe we can be about a conversation about achievement gaps and we can be about a conversation about how we can better serve talented-and-gifted students.
WSJ: Is that the central tension?
DN: That’s the manifestation. If it’s about human capital development, it has to be about all kids moving forward, but there’s real constraints around that because we do in fact make budget decisions year by year and people feel disaffected by those budget decisions. There’s real concern, and I’m right in line with that concern, that we aren’t doing enough to face these achievement gaps in an aggressive enough way. (Other) people feel very strongly that we’re not doing enough to advance the needs of our advanced learners.
WSJ: Summarize your first 2½ years in Madison.
DN: We immediately jumped into a referendum discussion. The need for that was identified prior to my coming. We spent a considerable amount of time in that first year focused on those issues. From there I worked with the board on some board reorganization. And then it moved into comprehensive strategic planning with our community. From there we did the reorganization of the administration. Creating a teacher and a parent council was part of our thinking about how we do our work differently. And then we had a major focus needed on this current year’s budget. That was a very difficult conversation. We were looking at this huge gap and this huge amount of money. There has been one major thing after another. Take one, it’s significant. Take them all, it’s been very significant. And while I’ve been here 30 months, I’m still learning the culture of this organization and of this community. I’ve tried to be sensitive to the culture and there’s been some tension about how we’ve done our work and has it been sensitive enough to the culture. None of that is lost on me.

Much more on Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad, here.
The Madison School Board votes on the Superintendent’s contract tonight.

Anne Arundel Board of Education approves superintendent’s budget

Joe Burris:

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education on Wednesday approved Superintendent Kevin Maxwell’s $968.6 million operating budget recommendations for next year by an 8-1 margin, after one board member unsuccessfully moved to have the budget amended and another complained that it requests too much additional spending as the county aims to be more fiscally responsible.
The board simultaneously approved the $156.9 million capital budget that gives $46.7 million to continuing construction projects at four schools, Northeast High School and Belle Grove, Folger McKinsey and Point Pleasant elementary schools. It also allocates $3.6 million for designs to replace Severna Park High School, $11 million for full-day kindergarten and pre-kindergarten additions, and $14 million for textbooks.
The operating budget for fiscal year 2012 is $37.3 million more than the previous year’s budget. It funds negotiated agreements with unions, the system’s health care obligations and 20 mentor teachers required to fulfill obligations associated with the Race to the Top federal money.

Anne Arundel spends $12,334.69 per student ($931,269,700 2011 budget for 75,500 students).
Locally, the Madison School District’s 2010-2011 budget, according to the “State of the Madison School District Report” is $379,058,945. Enrollment is 24,471 which yields per student spending of $15,490.12.

Wisconsin School Administrators Wear Many Hats; Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad tops Compensation list @ $256,715

The Wisconsin Taxpayer:

With state aid stagnant or dropping, state revenue limits tightening, and school compensation costs outpacing revenues, school districts–particularly their administrators–face growing financial pressures. At the same time, in the never-ending search for savings, the work of administrators is receiving greater scrutiny by school boards and the public alike.
Administrators increasingly wear many hats: fiscal expert, economic forecaster, management consultant, marketer, and savvy politician. In small districts, it is no exaggeration to add bookkeeper, guidance counselor, math teacher, handyman, or coach.
How varied approaches to school administration have become is illustrated by two small northern Wisconsin districts, each with about 500 students. One has four administrators (a superintendent, a business manager, and two principals), while the other has just one (a superintendent).
The same can be found among large districts. A relatively large central Wisconsin district has 22 administrators, while a similarly sized district (about 10% more students) has 32 administrators, or nearly 50% more.
These comparisons suggest there is much taxpayers, educators, and school boards can learn about how schools and districts are managed, both in terms of expenditures and work performed…

The comprehensive article mentions:

Among full time Superintendents, highest salaries were Madison ($198,500), Green Bay ($184,000), Racine ($180,000), Milwaukee ($175,062) and Whitefish Bay ($170,850). On the other hand, 49 full-time district heads earned less than $100,000, including those in Augusta ($65,649), Florence ($85,000), Wheatland J1 ($85,517), Cameron ($86,111), Phillips ($87,000) and Wauzeka-Steuben ($87,000).
When benefits are added, districts with the highest total compensation included Madison ($256,715), Milwaukee ($243,365), Green Bay ($239,700), Franklin ($236,573) and Hamilton ($218,617). Benefits include retirement contributions, employer share of Social Security and Medicare, health, life and disability insurance and other miscellaneous benefits such as reimbursement for college courses.

A comparison of 2010 Wisconsin School Administrative costs can be viewed in this .xls file.
Request a free copy of this issue of the Wisconsin Taxpayer, here.

Madison schools superintendent gets mixed grades as contract renewal vote looms

Matthew DeFour:

After 2½ years as Madison schools superintendent, Dan Nerad is still finding his footing.
For Nerad and his supporters, that’s more of a statement about Madison’s slippery and sometimes treacherous political terrain.
But among critics there is frustration that Nerad hasn’t risen to the task, particularly given the high expectations for the former social worker and Green Bay superintendent.
The two views among Madison School Board members and others in the community are circulating as the board weighs whether to extend Nerad’s contract beyond June 2012.
Supporters point to a long list of accomplishments so far despite severe obstacles — implementation of 4-year-old kindergarten after decades of discussion, development of a strategic plan that brought in dozens of community voices and expansion of dual-language immersion programs.

Cuomo, Pushing School Cuts, Offers a Target: Superintendent Salaries

Thomas Kaplan:

Carole G. Hankin, the schools superintendent in Syosset on Long Island, made an unexpected cameo appearance in Albany last week: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo cast her salary as a prime example of wasteful spending by school districts.
Mr. Cuomo did not mention Dr. Hankin by name in his budget address, but he did offer her salary: $386,868, more than the pay of any other superintendent in the state. “I applied for that job,” the governor joked, adding that he had decided to run for governor, which pays $179,000, only after he had been rejected.
Mr. Cuomo’s remarks came as he presented a budget calling for a $2.85 billion reduction in local school aid, a proposal that has already drawn fierce criticism from educators. But the governor offered some criticism of his own for school officials.
Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, said that school districts had enough means to withstand the decline in state financing, and pointedly suggested that they look at whether they are spending too much on their own bureaucracy.

Another Closed Session on Madison’s Superintendent Review….. Sixth since August, 2010

The Madison Board of Education:

2. Evaluation of the Superintendent pursuant to Wis. Stat §19.85(1)(c)

Much more on Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad, here.
This search reveals that there have been six closed session meetings since August, 2010 on the Superintendent evaluation. I wonder how this frequency conflicts with the public’s right to know?

Idaho Superintendent of Schools Luna’s proposed changes to education opposed by local school board

Idaho State Journal:

Pocatello-Chubbuck School District 25 has officially come out against an education reform plan backed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, arguing it adds new costs at a time when the state can’t cover existing expenses.
School board members, who hosted a special meeting Tuesday to discuss the plan, even took exception with the name of Luna’s plan, called “Students Come First.”
“The legislation itself is insulting in its title, thinking that any one of the school boards in this state would not put children first,” board members wrote in the document they authored outlining their position on the plan.
They noted past policy changes, including core standards and heightened graduation requirements, involved considerable input and time for research. Luna’s proposed legislation, they argue, wasn’t based on sufficient input or extensive research. They suggest implementing pilot programs to test various aspects of the plan, which could be used to measure success or as a basis for modifications.

West Virginia State superintendent candidates

Davin White:

Deputy State Schools Superintendent Jorea Marple believes pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade education in West Virginia has reached a pivotal point, and the state’s current direction for schools is just beginning to show benefits.
Mark Manchin, executive director of the state School Building Authority, wants to develop policies that help provide a “high-quality, 21st Century education” for children. He also promises to help support teachers and school administrators, provide safe and up-to-date school buildings and work with state lawmakers and the governor to ensure the state Board of Education’s agenda is advanced.
Carolyn Long, chairwoman of the West Virginia University Board of Governors, believes her experience in both higher education and other public schools could help bring “these two cultures together” to serve the needs of West Virginia.

Austin superintendent rallies task force to get back to long-term plan

Melissa B. Taboada:

Austin schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen met with facilities task force members Saturday to encourage them to broaden their scope and not to focus as much on the district’s looming budget crisis.
In recent weeks, the task force seemed to stray a bit from its mission of creating a 10-year plan on future schools, renovations and attendance zones. After it earlier this month named nine schools that could be closed for efficiency’s sake, outraged community members rallied to save their schools.
Although the long-term plan probably will have recommendations on closures, task force members said they felt pressured to produce short-term fixes to help the district get past one of the worst anticipated budget shortfalls in its history.
On Saturday, Carstarphen, in effect, told task force volunteers that was her burden, not theirs.
“There’s only so much in efficiencies you can do,” she said. “You can’t do it all. You don’t need to do it all.”

Austin School Board.
The Austin School District’s 2010-2011 budget is $973,997,900 for 86,000 students ($11,325.55 per student). Madison’s 2010-2011 budget is $379,058,945 (according to the January, 2011 “State of the District” presentation for 24,471 students. That is $15,490 per student.

Time for Change is Now – Milwaukee’s New Superintendent

Alan Borsuk:

If the Milwaukee Public Schools system keeps operating the way it is now, things just aren’t going to get much better. If we want things genuinely to improve, big changes need to be made. And the time for making changes is now.
I’m not presenting my views. I’m describing the views of Gregory Thornton.
With a half-year as superintendent of MPS behind him, he is beginning to make moves that are sure to define the success or failure of his time in Milwaukee – and may have a major impact on the shape of education in the city for years to come.

  • Lengthening school days and teacher workdays.
  • Giving administrators freer hands in hiring and assigning teachers.
  • Revising rules that make seniority the deciding factor in who gets laid off or reassigned when cuts are made.
  • Revamping teacher evaluations and maybe pay, including student performance as a factor.
  • Giving management more freedom to schedule training for teachers.
  • Revising the relationship between the School Board and the administration so the superintendent has a freer hand.

Galveston superintendent puts adults to test

Harvey Rice:

Larry Nichols sensed disdain for the level of instruction in public schools after taking the job of Galveston school district superintendent in September.
“One of the things attributed to public schools is that the curriculum is watered down, it’s not as rigorous as it was,” Nichols said.
To combat that idea, Nichols decided to begin challenging adults to answer the same questions that confront students. He began handing out 10 multiple-choice questions from the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS, the test every Texas high school senior must pass in order to receive a diploma.
Nichols handed the questions out every time he met with a local organization, among them the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis Club, the Realtors Association, the Pachyderm Club.

Quest to reform education in Oklahoma leads Barresi into state superintendent’s post

Murray Evans:

Sixteen years ago, Janet Barresi wanted to find a better middle school for her two sons. Eventually, she landed at the front of Oklahoma’s charter school movement and took up education reform as a full-time job.
Barresi starts Monday as the new state superintendent of schools, succeeding Sandy Garrett.
In the 1990s, Barresi and other parents persuaded the Oklahoma City school board to create a parent-run “enterprise” middle school, which became one of the state’s charter schools after the Legislature authorized them. She eventually started two charter schools and became president of the Oklahoma Association of Charter Schools.
Barresi spent more time on educational issues and sold her dental practice.

Carlstedt: Time for Wisconsin to stop spending Dollarss on 4K and a Reference to Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad

Rich Carlstedt:

First, the Federal Government funds a program for youngsters that need help. It is called Headstart. The cry for help for such an age group should be addressed by this program, however the schools have found a cash cow in Wisconsin’s 4 K Budget and can make extra funds this way.
Second, rather than looking to Arkansas, (or Georgia, who admit that the 4K program is a failure), we can look right here in Wisconsin. Three years ago I challenged Dan Nerad, the Green Bay Superintendent at that time, when he said, “early education promotes advancement of learning .”

“We do not need to look at studies from other communities, when we have the information right here in Green Bay! 8 years ago, we went from ½ day kindergarten to full day, and yet subsequent grade test scores failed to reflect the additional education time… in fact, scores are decreasing which is proof that extending hours does nothing.”

The charge went unanswered.
Third, I have to say that you left a very large arrow out of your quiver, as your financial equation is not correct for 4 K.
While I feel that $9,900 is closer, let’s use your $9,000 number, it is fine for expressing costs. To get funding for a student, he is counted as one FTE ( full time education) to get the 9K. 4K students however get a kicker. For 13 ¼ hours per week they are counted as .6 FTE ( .5 if less than 13 ¼). So 4 year olds are given a morning class, followed in the PM with another 4 year old. Those two half day students count as (2 x.6) 1.2 FTE or in cash terms, they bring in $10,800 to the district.

Much more on Madison’s planned 4K program, here.
The article’s comments are worth reading.

Rash of upcoming superintendent retirements raises questions on Gov. Christie’s pay cap

Jessica Calefati:

Leonia School District Superintendent Bernard Josefsberg determines spending plans and decides when schools are closed for snow. He translates complex education jargon for parents and visits classrooms to read with elementary students, many of whom he knows by name in a district of about 1,800 students.
In June, Josefsberg is retiring, in part because of a pay cap imposed by Gov. Chris Christie that is set to take effect in February after the current required period of public comment ends.
The cap links a superintendent’s salary to the size of a district, limiting pay for the largest school systems to a maximum $175,000, the governor’s salary.

Seattle Public Schools superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson stands firm, even as her teachers lose faith in her leadership.

Matthew Halverson

SEVEN YEARS AGO, Maria Goodloe-Johnson declined to apply for the job as superintendent of Seattle Public Schools and instead took the same job with the Charleston County School District in South Carolina. “The [Seattle] school board was very confused,” she says. “And I wasn’t interested in confusion.” She won’t get more specific than that when describing the district circa 2003, but it couldn’t have been drastically different than the situation she inherited when she accepted the Seattle school district’s top spot in 2007.
Attendance at South Seattle schools was sinking. The school board had adopted a new student assignment plan without any idea of how to implement it. Schools were teaching to vastly different standards. Heck, the district’s computer system was so outdated, prospective teachers had no means for applying online for jobs at multiple schools at once. SPS lacked accountability and administrative oversight, and Goodloe-Johnson whipped out her ruler and started rapping knuckles almost immediately.

Melissa Westbrook has more.

Madison School District Draft Superintendent Evaluation Documents

Beth Moss & James Howard 450K PDF

Attached is the final draft of the Superintendent evaluation document to be used for the summative or end -of-year evaluation to be voted on at the November 29 meeting. The document has two parts. The first part is the Superintendent of Schools Performance Expectations Standards Assessment, a rubric based on the following:

  1. The Superintendent Position Description, adopted Sept. 21, 2009; and
  2. Feedback from the formative (mid-year) evaluation for the Superintendent, July 2010

The second part of the evaluation involves feedback on the following elements:

  1. The Superintendent goals, approved December 15, 2009;
  2. Two elements from the additional evaluation framework identified by Mr. Howard: Diversity and Inclusion and Safety.

From the original draft sent to the Operational Support Committee on November 8, these are element numbers 3 and 4. In addition to approving a final version of the evaluation plan, the Board needs to discuss the date for evaluations to be submitted for compilation to the Board president and dates for a closed session meeting(s) to discuss the results. To complete the process by February, January 3, 2011 is the recommended date for submittal. January 10, 24, and 31 are possible meeting dates. During this period Board members also need to provide input on the Superintendent’s goals for 2011.
If you have any questions, please email James or Beth.

Much more on the Superintendent evaluation, here. A side note: the lack of annual, substantive evaluations of former Superintendent Art Rainwater was an issue in mid 2000’s school board races. Related: Who Does the Superintendent Work For?

South Carolina Education superintendent race comes back to vouchers

Greg Hambrick

When the dust settled on the 2006 statewide election, private school voucher opponents claimed victory — after all, a Democrat won the race for Education Superintendent. During the campaign, Republican candidate Karen Floyd, now the state Republican Party chairwoman, was understandably cagey about her support for vouchers or tax credits for private school tuitions. But thousands of dollars poured into her campaign from voucher supporters outside of the state, while her opponent, Jim Rex, ran largely on his opposition to the proposal.
Four years later, tax credits are back at the forefront of the superintendent’s race. This time, Democrat Frank Holleman is facing an electorate much more skeptical of Dems, while Republican Mick Zais isn’t shy about his support for private school tax credits.

On Superintendent Ealuations

Charlie Mas:

It is shocking to hear that almost no one in Seattle Public Schools had a job description, had regular performance reviews, or even had any set criteria for a performance review. That represents a grosteque failure of management at just about every level of District management, but primarily at the top. I don’t know why people think that Raj Manhas was in any way capable, because the CACIEE final report was basically a catalog of his utter failure to fulfill any part of his responsibilities. Joseph Olchefske was no better, and John Stanford started the whole thing by failing/refusing to take on a quality assurance role when he de-centralized decision-making. I certainly appluad the Superintendent for introducing management to Seattle Public Schools. But the REAL focus of her Performance Management effort is schools. Not teachers and principals so much as schools taken a whole.

Praise for the Indiana Schools Superintendent

Indianapolis Business Journal:

Tony Bennett, the state’s superintendent of public instruction for nearly two years, deserves accolades for shoving education reform toward the top of Indiana’s agenda.
Unlike his predecessor, Suellen Reed, who seemed little more than a cheerleader for schools, Bennett is pushing hard-nosed reforms.
And while at times he’s unfairly cast the state’s powerful teachers’ union–the Indiana State Teachers Association–as a villain, Bennett wisely struck a more productive, collaborative tone during his State of Education address Aug. 23. The New Albany Republican avoided the rhetoric that scores political points but does little to actually improve schools.

Superintendent Climate Locally and Elsewhere: Collier School Board candidates evaluate how to replace Dennis Thompson; An Update on the 2008 Madison Candidates?

Naples Daily News:

Now that Collier County schools Superintendent Dennis Thompson’s contract isn’t getting renewed, the nine Collier School Board candidates have to think about what the next superintendent will be like.
After all, three of them will be involved in the selection of the next superintendent, which current board members agreed shouldn’t start until after the November election.
The primary election is Tuesday.
While the candidates believe a search should start and include community input, they differ on the approach to that search.
District 5 candidate Mary Ellen Cash was the only candidate to recommend saving the money from a nationwide search by hiring from within the district or area.
“We have a lot of home-grown people with a lot of talent,” she said.

Locally, the Madison School Board has held three meetings during the past two months on the Superintendent’s (Dan Nerad) evaluation:
6/29 Superintendent Evaluation, 7/12 Evaluation of the Superintendent, 8/9 Evaluation of the Superintendent.
The lack of Superintendent oversight was in issue in school board races a few years ago.
Steve Gallon (more) was a candidate for the Madison position in 2008, along with Jim McIntyre.
2008 Madison Superintendent candidate appearances: Steve Gallon, Jim McIntyre and Dan Nerad.

Philadelphia Superintendent Reorganizes

Dafney Tales:

“This transformation is both essential and urgent if we are to accelerate achievement for all children and accomplish the goals of Imagine 2014,” she said in a statement, referring to the district’s five-year improvement plan.
Regional office facilities, which generally served as buffers between schools and the central office, will reopen this fall as parent- and family-resource centers designed to provide support services for parents.
Along with the changes to the regional offices, Ackerman has appointed three associate superintendents.
Tomas Hanna, Ackerman’s former chief of staff who was recently given the job of associate superintendent of academics, will serve as the associate superintendent of academic support.
David Weiner, former chief of accountability, will become the associate superintendent of academics and curriculum.

Broward Schools Superintendent Evaluated


A South Florida superintendent has been graded on his performance during the past school year.
The Broward County School Board gave Broward Schools Superintendent James Notter a grade of “C” in his annual evaluation, Wednesday morning. Notter received a 7.7 on a 10-point scale for his performance, an average grade for the year.
According to the school board, Notter needs to improve his communication with staff members and the general public; improve relations with the teachers union in Broward and cut administrative costs. “With all the complications we went through, I believe it is a fair and valid assessment of how the superintendent worked with the board, worked with his leadership team to do the right thing for our children,” said Notter.

New Orleans Superintendent Leaving Legacy of Charter School Expansion

PBS NewsHour:

As the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, the superintendent brought in to revive New Orleans’ troubled public schools is bidding farewell after turning many of the schools into charters. Before his departure, Paul Vallas speaks with John Merrow about where things stand with the city’s school reform efforts.
JOHN MERROW: For Paul Vallas, the veteran superintendent Louisiana hired in 2007 to do the job, the pressure was on.
PAUL VALLAS, superintendent, Recovery School District of Louisiana: We need to move now. We need to start building buildings now. We need to modernize those classrooms now.
JOHN MERROW: Almost from the time he arrived in New Orleans, Paul Vallas began making promises, talking publicly about all the big changes he intended to make in the schools. Well, it’s been three years. Time for Paul Vallas’ report card.
PAUL PASTOREK, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education: I give Paul very high marks.
JOHN MERROW: State Superintendent Paul Pastorek hired Paul Vallas.
PAUL PASTOREK: If you would tell people five years ago what is happening today, no one would have believed it was possible.

Wisconsin’s Education Superintendent on the National “Common Core” Academic Standards

Alan Borsuk:

But signing Wisconsin on to the nationwide standards campaign may trump all of those. Wisconsin’s current standards for what children should learn have been criticized in several national analyses as weak, compared with what other states have. The common core is regarded as more specific and more focused on what students really should master.
Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the generally conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, is a big backer of the new standards. “There is no doubt whatsoever in Wisconsin’s case that the state would be better off with the common core standards than what it has today,” he said in a phone interview.
But standards are one thing. Making them mean something is another. Evers said that will be a major focus for him ahead.
“How are we going to make this happen in the classrooms of Wisconsin?” he asked.
The answer hinges on making the coming state testing system a meaningful way of measuring whether students have learned what they are supposed to learn. And that means teaching them the skills and abilities in the standards.
Does that mean Wisconsin will, despite its history, end up with statewide curricula in reading and math? Probably not, if you mean something the state orders local schools to do. But probably yes in terms of making recommendations that many schools are likely to accept.
“We will have a model curriculum, no question,” Evers said. He said more school districts are looking to DPI already for answers because, with the financial crunches they are in, they don’t have the capacity to research good curriculum choices.

Fewer superintendents heading more school districts

Tom Weber:

One way rural school districts in Minnesota try to save money is by sharing superintendents, usually with one person becoming the leader of two districts.
But a man in southern Minnesota is getting ready to become the superintendent of three districts, and officials say he probably won’t be the last to take on so many districts.
Jerry Reshetar has been the superintendent of the Lyle School District since 1999. The town sits right on the Minnesota-Iowa border and its school has about 230 or so students. The district had already been working on sharing resources with two nearby districts, Glenville-Emmons and Grand Meadow.

Stamford School board extends superintendent’s contract by one year

Magdalene Perez:

In a close vote Thursday night, the Board of Education approved a one-year contract extension for schools Superintendent Joshua Starr.
The agreement increases the remaining two years on Starr’s current contract to three, and provides no salary increase in the current year, with pay bumps to $220,000 in 2011-12 and $225,000 in 2012-13, Board of Education President Jackie Heftman said. Starr currently earns a base salary of $215,000.
In addition, the contact calls for the Board of Education to reimburse Starr on a portion of his retirement contributions and eliminates his use of a city vehicle in favor of a $600 monthly transportation stipend. It also allows the board to terminate Starr’s employment at any time upon a majority vote.
Starr, who had pushed for the extension, said he was pleased with the outcome. He has said he will move his family from Brooklyn, N.Y. and enroll his two children in Stamford schools if the contract was granted.

Houston Superintendent Grier dishes on magnet schools, names new chief

Ericka Mellon:

Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier has eliminated the position of manager of magnet programs. That means Dottie Bonner, who held the job since March 2002, is out. She submitted her letter of resignation effective Aug. 31, according to the district.
Grier instead has created a higher-level position, an assistant superintendent over school choice. Lupita Hinojosa, the former executive principal over the Wheatley High School feeder pattern, has been named to the post.
We know that changing anything related to magnets puts parents on edge, especially after former HISD Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra’s failed attempt to reduce busing to the specialty schools. A quick Internet search shows that magnet transportation also was a hot topic in Grier’s former district, San Diego Unified. The school board there voted in spring 2009 to eliminate busing to magnets to save money but reversed the decision after parent outcry, according to Voice of San Diego.
I talked to Grier this morning about what happened in San Diego, and he said the decision to end busing to magnet schools was the school board’s, not his. “(Deputy Superintendent) Chuck Morris and I counseled and advised and recommended that they not do this — that it would destroy the magnet program — but they did anyway.”

Wisconsin DPI Receives $13.8M in Federal Tax Funds for “an interoperable data system that supports the exchange of data and ad hoc research requests”

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction:

State Superintendent Tony Evers issued a statement today on the $13.8 million, four-year longitudinal data system (LDS) grant Wisconsin won to support accountability. Wisconsin was among 20 states sharing $250 million in competitive funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“Receiving this U.S. Department of Education grant is very good news for Wisconsin and will allow us to expand our data system beyond its current PK-16 capacity. Through this grant, the Department of Public Instruction will work with the University of Wisconsin System, Wisconsin Technical College System, and the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities to develop an interoperable data system that supports the exchange of data and ad hoc research requests.
“Teacher quality, training, and professional development are key factors in improving student achievement. However, Wisconsin’s aging teacher licensing and certification system is insufficient for today’s accountability demands. This grant will allow us to improve our teacher licensing system and incorporate licensing data into the LDS, which will drive improvement in classroom instruction and teacher education.

2. Post-graduation Information Available to Wisconsin Schools

Public schools in Wisconsin can now obtain, at no cost, post-graduation student data for local analysis.
The Department of Public Instruction recently signed a contract with the National Student Clearinghouse, a non-profit organization which works with more than 3,300 postsecondary institutions nationwide to maintain a repository of information on enrollment, degrees, diplomas, certificates, and other educational achievements.
The NSC data can answer questions such as
Where in the country, and when, do our high school graduates enroll in college?
How long do their education efforts persist?
Do they graduate from college?
What degrees do they earn?
The DPI will integrate information about graduates from Wisconsin high schools into the Wisconsin Longitudinal Data System (LDS). In addition, any public high school or district in Wisconsin can use the NSC StudentTracker service to request similar data for local analysis.

Polk County Superintendent of Schools: Let the Selection Proceed

The Ledger:

And then there were two. Friday’s abrupt withdrawal by Robert Schiller from consideration as Polk County school superintendent leaves two candidates to replace Gail McKinzie, who will retire near year’s end.
It also leaves in its wake a big divide between Polk Businesses for World Class Education – which pledged $50,000 to assure a nationwide search for a replacement – and the School Board. The board meets Tuesday to make a selection and to hear a plea from Polk Businesses’ Hunt Berryman, who said the entire process should begin anew.
“The whole thing is a sham and a shame,” Berryman said. He’s particularly upset at School Board member Frank O’Reilly, who asked Schiller if he’d ever applied for another superintendent’s position in Florida.
When Schiller said yes (15 years ago in Palm Beach County), O’Reilly asked a follow-up: “Never applied in Pinellas County?”
Schiller replied, “No, not that I can recall.” Caught by an Internet search (the information was on the St. Petersburg Times’ website), Schiller later told O’Reilly he should have asked the question “in private.”

Salaries of N.J. school superintendents may be next on chopping block

Lisa Fleisher, Claire Heininger & Sean Esposito:

During the angry debate over teacher pay, little has been said about the higher salaries of New Jersey school administrators. On the contrary, Gov. Chris Christie praises many of them for taking wage freezes while most teachers are refusing.
Don’t expect that to last long.
“I’m sure that at some point the governor is going to push obviously with administrators as well,” said Boonton superintendent Christine Johnson, singled out by Christie for freezing her salary. “I would think that writing is on the wall.”
One reason: six-figure salaries are common among administrators, who include superintendents, assistant superintendents and principals. A Star-Ledger analysis of data from the state Department of Education for 2008-09 found:

  • The median salary for full-time school administrators in New Jersey — the salary figure that half of them exceed, and half do not — was $113,083.
  • In more than 425 districts, the median salary for an administrator was at least $100,000. Less than 2 percent of teachers — 1.6 percent — made $100,000 or more.
  • Christie’s $175,000 salary is less than the pay of 235 school administrators from 184 districts.

A 2008 report commissioned by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators found the average superintendent salary in New Jersey was $154,409, about $9,000 higher than the national average. That compared with $152,782 in New York and $146,906 in Connecticut.

Public, students speak out against Grand Rapids schools’ online education, superintendent scales back plan

Kym Reinstadler:

About 600 people attended Monday’s rescheduled Grand Rapids Board of Education meeting, with nearly 50 registering days in advance to question the board about proposed changes, including a controversial shift to online instruction at the city’s high schools.
But Wes Viersen said he came to answer the board’s questions about online classes. The Creston High School senior considers himself an expert in online courses, having completed 14 this year — a feat he said he could verify with the transcript in his pocket.
“Overall, the quality of E2020 is horrible,” Viersen told the board. “I completed courses, but I did not get an adequate education.”

Frequently asked questions about Grand Rapids proposed High School Curriculum changes.

Madison School Board to Discuss the Superintendent’s Proposed Administrative Reorganization Monday Evening

Organization Chart 352K PDF
Reorgnanization Budget 180K PDF
February, 2010 background memo from Superintendent Dan Nerad.
I spoke with the Superintendent Friday regarding the proposed reorganization. The conversation occurred subsequent to an email I sent to the School Board regarding Administrative cost growth and the proposed reduction in Superintendent direct reports.
I inquired about the reduction in direct reports, the addition of a Chief Learning Officer, or Deputy Superintendent and the apparent increased costs of this change. Mr. Nerad said that he would email updated budget numbers Monday (he said Friday that there would be cost savings). With respect to the change in direct reports, he said that the District surveyed other large Wisconsin Schools and found that those Superintendents typically had 6 to 8, maybe 9 direct reports. He also reminded me that the District formerly had a Deputy Superintendent. Art Rainwater served in that position prior to his boss, Cheryl Wilhoyte’s demise. He discussed a number of reasons for the proposed changes, largely to eliminate management silos and support the District’s strategic plan. He also referenced a proposed reduction in Teaching & Learning staff.
I mentioned Administrative costs vis a vis the current financial climate.
I will post the budget numbers and any related information upon receipt.
Finally, I ran into a wonderful MMSD teacher this weekend. I mentioned my recent conversation with the Superintendent. This teacher asked if I “set him straight” on the “dumbing down of the Madison School District”?
That’s a good question. This teacher believes that we should be learning from Geoffrey Canada’s efforts with respect to the achievement gap, particularly his high expectations. Much more on the Harlem Children’s Zone here.
Finally, TJ Mertz offers a bit of commentary on Monday evening’s Madison School Board meeting.

Walpole Superintendent Lincoln Lynch says achievement gap may not have been great enough for Race to the Top funding

Keith Ferguson:

Massachusetts did not receive Race to the Top school funding but state education officials say they plan to reapply for the grant.
Pres. Barack Obama established the Race to the Top program last summer for states to compete for $4.35 billion in grant funding to pursue education overhauls and innovative reform.
Of the initial 40 states to qualify, Massachusetts was named one of 16 finalists. Early this week, the U.S. Department of Education announced Delaware and Tennessee were the only winners.
The program states winners would be chosen simply on the state’s readiness to rework their education system.
Superintendent Lincoln Lynch said Massachusetts might have been passed up since the achievement gap here may not be as great as in other states. As a finalist, however, Massachusetts will have the opportunity to reapply in for a second round of funding in June.

Monterey County schools Superintendent Nancy Kotowski gets veto power over Alisal district

Maria Ines Zamudio:

Nancy Kotowski, Monterey County superintendent of schools, will start overseeing the Alisal Union School District today after the state Board of Education unanimously appointed her as an interim state trustee.
Citing “the need to protect public interest,” the board decided to name Kotowski on Tuesday afternoon during an emergency meeting in Sacramento. She will have veto power over the Salinas district’s board of trustees until the state appoints a permanent trustee — and outlines his or her responsibilities and power — in May.
“My immediate goal is establish stability and prepare the District for an effective community meeting with the State Board of Education on April 14,” Kotowski said Tuesday. “This will be done by focusing all efforts on teaching and learning in the classrooms of the District.”
In March, the board assigned a state trustee to oversee two school districts in Monterey County: Greenfield Union and Alisal Union. The decision came after the districts chronically failed to meet academic standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act. The state board also found that problems “managing adult relationships” were ruining the districts’ ability to improve student achievement.

Minnesota superintendent candidate holding four public meetings this week

Tom Weber:

The woman being tapped to run the Minneapolis School District will take part in four meetings this week to meet the community.
Bernadeia Johnson has been an administrator in Minneapolis for a few years – most recently as deputy superintendent. These meetings will be the first time she faces the public as the only candidate for the top job after current superintendent Bill Green retires in June.
The school board announced earlier this month that Johnson was its only candidate for the job. She had long been considered a leading candidate, but the move still surprised some people for its suddenness. It means Minneapolis won’t conduct a national search or even consider a list of a few semi-finalists, as St. Paul did last year.

An Interview with Montgomery (Alabama) School District Superintendent (an former Madison Lapham Elementary Principal) Barbara Thompson

David Zaslawsky, via a kind reader’s email:

MBJ: As superintendent, you are the CEO of a $311 million budget, 32,000 students and 4,500 employees. What are your priorities?
Thompson: Basically, moving the school district forward so we are considered one of the No. 1 school districts in the state. Making sure that our students are successful and that they have skills that will allow them to compete in what I consider a global society. My priority is to make sure first and foremost that we have kids in the classroom – so we have to tackle that dropout rate.
MBJ: Any other initiatives?
Thompson: The Career Academies is another way we’re looking at deterring our dropout rate. We hope that this gives our kids some idea of the light at the end of the tunnel; some skill set they can see and some jobs they can do. Potentially, we see (Career Academies) being a linkage for those kids for reasons why to stay in school because this can give you jobs – these are classes you can take while you’re in high school so when you graduate, you actually have a job. And the last component of that – that three-tier component that I consider — is prevention. We increased seven pre-K programs because the other part of dropout prevention is that part. We added seven pre-K programs this year for a total of 21. The reason that is so critical is because one of the reasons kids drop out is because they don’t have the skills that they need. We’re trying to increase giving the kids skills as 4-year-olds so when they come into kindergarten, they are caught up. That’s part of that three-pronged approach.
MBJ: What are some of the things that you learned about MPS since you took over in August, and what has surprised you?
Thompson: I learned a lot about the commitment that this community has towards education, particularly the business (community), work force development and the chamber. They are very committed to making sure that the public schools in Montgomery are successful. I guess I was surprised at the Career Academies. They are cutting-edge in terms of what you want to be doing in the school district and the involvement that we have in the chamber in the (Career Academies) is exciting and unusual.

Montgomery, AL school district website & Thompson’s blog.
Lapham Elementary’s success with Direct Instruction (phonics) was discussed during a Reading Recovery conversation at the December 7, 2009 Madison School Board meeting.

Washington School Superintendent Calls for Delay on Math and Science Requirements

Teodora Popescu:

Yesterday, at the Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA) conference at the Westin in downtown Seattle, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn announced his new plans for math and science graduation requirements to an audience of over 1,000 statewide school board members.
Dorn, elected as a reformer last year, said it was necessary to postpone stricter graduation requirements for math until the class of 2015, and all graduation requirements for science until the class of 2017, to give students and teachers appropriate time to adjust to pending reforms.
For math graduation requirements until 2015, Dorn is okay with giving students a fall back option of earning two credits of math after tenth grade in order to graduate (a choice that is set to disappear in 2013) in place of passing a set of exams. Reformers want the scheduled changes–getting rid of the additional course work graduation option–to kick in for the class of 2013. They want students to have to pass either a state exam or two end-of-course exams to graduate starting in 2013–without Dorn’s fallback.
For 2015 and onward, Dorn offered a two-tier proposal: Students either meet the proficiency level in two end-of-course exams or students meet the basic level in the exams and earn four math credits. Students who don’t meet the basic level in the exams have the option of retesting with a comprehensive exam or using state-approved alternatives such as the SAT.
As far as the science graduation requirement, Dorn proposed postponing any requirements until the class of 2017, and replacing the current comprehensive assessment with end-of-course assessments in physical and life sciences. The 2010 legislature (starting this January) is supposed to define the science requirements.

Ex-Portland Superintendent Vicki Phillips: It’s all about the teacher

Betsy Hammond:

Former Portland Superintendent Vicki Phillips, now director of education for the Gates Foundation, didn’t break any news in her speech to big city school board members and superintendents in Portland last week.
Instead, she reinterated what she and others already have said about Gates’ version 2.0 of fixing American high schools: Essentially, it’s all about the teacher.
The Gates Foundation first tried to improve students’ readiness for college and decrease the dropout rate by getting high schools to morph into smaller, more personalized academies. It poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the effort, but ultimately, it didn’t work.
Gates and Phillips now openly admit: School structure is not the key. (Parents and educators in Portland Public School make use that same line about Phillips’ main, and unfinished, initiative while in PPS: creating K-8 schools in place of middle schools.)
So, the foundation now plans to pour at least half a billion dollars into a teacher quality initiative.
It will sponsor rigorous research to help determine which qualities or skills that a teacher exhibits translate into the greatest gains in student learning, so that school districts can identify, recruit and retain the best performers. And it will award millions to several pioneering urban districts that agree to hire, place, train and pay teachers differently, with much more weight given to helping ensure that students get highly effective teachers, particularly students in greatest academic need.

An Earthquake: Rhode Island School Superintendents Told To Abolish Teacher Seniority

Linda Borg:

Dropping a bombshell on the teachers’ unions, state Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist ordered school superintendents to abolish the practice of assigning teachers based on how many years they have in the school system.
Gist, who sent a letter to superintendents on Tuesday, is upending tradition and taking on two powerful unions, the National Education Association Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals (RIFT), who together represent 12,000 public school teachers.
On Friday, the unions said they were blindsided by Gist’s announcement, adding that the commissioner made no attempt to confer with labor before going public with the decision.
“We’re going to court,” said Marcia Reback, president of the Federation of Teachers. “I’m startled that there was no conversation with the unions about this. I’m startled there were no public hearings, and I’m startled at the content. This narrows the scope of collective bargaining.”
Gist says she has the authority to do away with seniority under the new Basic Education Plan, which the Rhode Island Board of Regents approved in June and which takes effect July 1.

Makes sense…..
NBC10 has more.

DPI Superintendent as the Wisconsin Education Czar?

Amy Hetzner:

An effort has been launched in the state Capitol to give the state schools superintendent broader authority to turn around struggling schools and position Wisconsin to better compete for millions of dollars in federal education grants.
Little fanfare has accompanied potential legislative changes that would allow the superintendent of public instruction to order curriculum and personnel changes in chronically failing schools. It didn’t even make the news release for Gov. Jim Doyle’s three-city announcement on Monday of educational changes he is seeking to help Wisconsin qualify for some of the $4.35 billion in Race to the Top funds from the U.S. Department of Education.
State Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine), chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said the idea of giving the state superintendent “super-duper powers” has attracted support from legislators and educational interest groups since it first surfaced earlier this month.
“There’s getting to be general agreement around these interventions,” he said.

Prior to any expansion of the Wisconsin DPI’s powers, I’d like to see them implement a usable and rigorous assessment system to replace the oft-criticized WKCE.
Perhaps, this is simply politics chasing new federal tax dollars….

Maryland Governor O’Malley urges School Superintendents to cut costs

Nelson Hernandez & John Wagner:

With Maryland facing a $2 billion budget shortfall next year, Gov. Martin O’Malley warned the chiefs of the state’s school systems Tuesday of hard times ahead, and the Senate president told them that they were “going to have to start taking a portion of the hit.”
Speaking in Annapolis to a gathering of the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland, O’Malley (D) urged the heads of the county’s 24 school jurisdictions to find ways to save money but maintain the quality that earned the state a No. 1 ranking in a national survey by the Education Week trade newspaper.
O’Malley’s cost-saving suggestions included creating a school building design that could be used across the state, buying furniture from the state prison industry and installing solar panels on roofs to generate energy.
But he offered few specifics about what cuts the superintendents might expect in state funding even as he repeatedly stressed the challenge of chopping $2 billion from a $13 billion budget.

New Houston Superintendent Terry Grier’s first impressions

Ericka Mellon:

New Superintendent Terry Grier wasn’t shy about sharing his opinions at his first workshop with the school board last week.
On technology in HISD: “I think we are very, very far behind in technology for a district our size.” I’d expect Grier to push for major technology upgrades in the district, but could he fund them without another bond referendum? In San Diego, Grier oversaw the passage of a bond that included funding for a one-to-one technology package, where every classroom will get
a laptop for every student, an interactive white board, digital cameras and an audio system. Research hasn’t always supported the give-every-kid-a-laptop approach, but perhaps HISD can learn from the San Diego experiment.
On principals: Grier said the district has to change how it selects and interviews principals. He said his staff recently brought him a few candidates to interview and he wasn’t pleased with the quality. After that, he said he basically told his staff, “If you can’t bring me better principals to interview, don’t bring them.” Just because a candidate is popular with a school board member or the community doesn’t mean that person can lead, Grier said. Ouch! Read here about the so-called Haberman interview process Grier implemented in Guilford County (and perhaps in San Diego too).

Burlington Township School Superintendent on Elementary Students Singing About President Obama

Christopher Manno:

By now, we’re sure that you are aware of a video placed on the Internet that has been reported heavily by the media. The video is of a class of students singing a song about President Obama.
Over the past two days we have been able to learn more about this situation and would like to provide you with some additional information. The song was one of eight skits performed during a February 2009 program that included second grade classes. Parents attended the program which took place on February 27, 2009. The other skits in the program included Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, Abraham Lincoln, Valentine’s Day, George Washington, Mardi Gras, and Dental Health Month. The song about President Obama was in recognition of Black History Month. We have been informed that the lyrics of the song were sent home with the children in advance of the assembly, which was the teacher’s normal procedure. There were no concerns or complaints prior to, during, or after the program.
On March 23, 2009, an author visited the Young School as part of the school’s Women’s History Month recognition. As is usual procedure, parents were notified prior to the visit and invited to attend. The author presented two assemblies during which she read from two of her books. She also met with the Teen Book Club at our high school and did an evening book signing for parents and children. The author was accompanied by two individuals. After the first assembly on March 23rd, the class that performed the song at the February assembly about President Obama provided a special performance for the author, since one of the books she wrote was about Barack Obama. We were informed by a representative of the author that one of the individuals who accompanied the author video recorded the performance. School staff had no knowledge of the recording.

Barb Thompson takes Montgomery (AL) Superintendent Post

Adrienne Nettles via a kind reader’s email:

In a vote preceded by outbursts from board members, the Montgomery County Board of Education on Wednesday selected Barbara Thompson as Montgomery’s new superintendent.

The board voted 4-3 along racial lines to offer the job to Thompson, who currently serves as superintendent of New Glarus Public Schools in Wisconsin.

Black board members Mary Briers, Eleanor Dawkins, Robert Porterfield and Beverly Ross voted for Thompson. Voting against her were white members Charlotte Meadows, Heather Sellers and Melissa Snowden, who all wanted to continue the search process.

Thompson was the lone finalist for the job after Samantha Ingram, superintendent of Fairfield County Schools in South Carolina, withdrew on Monday.

Ross, chairwoman of the school board, said she called Thompson shortly after the vote and Thompson accepted the job.

“I am excited that she’s excited about coming here,” Ross said. “She was already talking about how to get our test scores up.”

Thompson, in a phone interview from her house in Wisconsin, said she and the board in the next few days should begin working out the details of her contract, which include salary negotiations.

Thompson was formerly principal at Lapham Elementary in the Madison School District. The Montgromery School District, with 31,000 students, is nearly 1/3 larger than the Madison Schools.

An Email to Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad on Math Teacher Hiring Criteria

Thanks much for taking the time from your busy schedule to respond to our letter below. I am delighted to note your serious interest in the topic of how to obtain middle school teachers who are highly qualified to teach mathematics to the MMSD’s students so that all might succeed. We are all in agreement with the District’s laudable goal of having all students complete algebra I/geometry or integrated algebra I/geometry by the end of 10th grade. One essential component necessary for achieving this goal is having teachers who are highly competent to teach 6th- through 8th-grade mathematics to our students so they will be well prepared for high school-level mathematics when they arrive in high school.
The primary point on which we seem to disagree is how best to obtain such highly qualified middle school math teachers. It is my strong belief that the MMSD will never succeed in fully staffing all of our middle schools with excellent math teachers, especially in a timely manner, if the primary mechanism for doing so is to provide additional, voluntary math ed opportunities to the District’s K-8 generalists who are currently teaching mathematics in our middle schools. The District currently has a small number of math-certified middle school teachers. It undoubtedly has some additional K-8 generalists who already are or could readily become terrific middle school math teachers with a couple of hundred hours of additional math ed training. However, I sincerely doubt we could ever train dozens of additional K-8 generalists to the level of content knowledge necessary to be outstanding middle school math teachers so that ALL of our middle school students could be taught mathematics by such teachers.
Part of our disagreement centers around differing views regarding the math content knowledge one needs to be a highly-qualified middle school math teacher. As a scientist married to a mathematician, I don’t believe that taking a couple of math ed courses on how to teach the content of middle school mathematics provides sufficient knowledge of mathematics to be a truly effective teacher of the subject. Our middle school foreign language teachers didn’t simply take a couple of ed courses in how to teach their subject at the middle school level; rather, most of them also MAJORED or, at least, minored in the subject in college. Why aren’t we requiring the same breathe and depth of content knowledge for our middle school mathematics teachers? Do you really believe mastery of the middle school mathematics curriculum and how to teach it is sufficient content knowledge for teachers teaching math? What happens when students ask questions that aren’t answered in the teachers’ manual? What happens when students desire to know how the material they are studying relates to higher-level mathematics and other subjects such as science and engineering?
The MMSD has been waiting a long time already to have math-qualified teachers teaching mathematics in our middle schools. Many countries around the world whose students outperform US students in mathematics only hire teachers who majored in the subject to teach it. Other school districts in the US are taking advantage of the current recession with high unemployment to hire and train people who know and love mathematics, but don’t yet know how to teach it to others. For example, see
If Madison continues to wait, we will miss out on this opportunity and yet another generation of middle schoolers will be struggling to success in high school.
The MMSD has a long history of taking many, many year to resolve most issues. For example, the issue of students receiving high school credit for non-MMSD courses has been waiting 8 years and counting! It has taken multiple years for the District’s math task force to be formed, meet, write its report, and have its recommendations discussed. For the sake of the District’s students, we need many more math-qualified middle school teachers NOW. Please act ASAP, giving serious consideration to our proposal below. Thanks.

Superintendent Dan Nerad’s Response to “Action Needed, Please Sign on…. Math Teacher Hiring in the Madison School District”

Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad via email:

Dr. Mertz-
Thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding this critical issue in our middle schools. We will continue to follow the conversation and legislative process regarding hiring Teach for America and Math for America candidates. We have similar concerns to those laid out by UW Professors Hewson and Knuth (http://www.madison.com/wsj/home/forum/451220). In particular they stated, “Although subject-matter knowledge is essential to good teaching, the knowledge required for teaching is significantly different from that used by math and science professionals.” This may mean that this will not be a cost effective or efficient solution to a more complex problem than many believe it to be. These candidates very well may need the same professional learning opportunities that we are working with the UW to create for our current staff. The leading researchers on this topic are Ball, Bass and Hill from the University of Michigan. More information on their work can be found at (http://sitemaker.umich.edu/lmt/home). We are committed to improving the experience our students have in our mathematics class and will strive to hire the most qualified teachers and continue to strengthen our existing staff.
Dan Nerad

Virginia Superintendent Thinks Small in Plan to Revamp Middle Grades

Theresa Vargas:

Alexandria Superintendent Morton Sherman was less than a week into the job, greeting parents outside an elementary school, when he was first asked how he planned to fix the middle schools.
Last night came his answer: through a massive overhaul.
Sherman, seven months into his tenure, presented a plan for restructuring the city’s two middle schools, which have never met federal benchmarks and which, he said, contribute to Alexandria’s dropout rate being among the highest in the area.
Locally and across the nation, middle schools have generally been regarded as the problem child for school systems, marking the turbulent teenage years in which test scores and enthusiasm drop. In response, school systems have begun getting creative and investing more resources into those grade levels. The District school system, for example, has a program that pays students for their performance, and Montgomery County schools have committed to a three-year, $10 million plan to accelerate curriculum, train teachers and improve the leadership structure.
Sherman’s plan, which he presented to the Alexandria School Board last night, calls for splitting the two middle schools into five smaller ones, each with its own principal and staff. The change would not cost the school system more, he said, adding that staff would be reallocated. If the board approves the plan, the new structure will be in place in time for the next school year.

Sherman, wisely, has a blog, including comments!

Newark schools, Rutgers unveil research collaboration

Steve Chambers:

s one of the state’s poorest school districts, Newark has long known it has some severe problems. Quantifying them has been another matter.
Now, the district may be one step closer to getting some answers as Superintendent Clifford Janey joined officials at Rutgers University in Newark today to announce an ambitious research collaboration.
Modeled after a 20-year relationship between the University of Chicago and that city’s public schools, the project seeks to join a growing trend of universities helping public schools use technology to better track student performance. The relationships are particularly prevalent in cities where impoverished students have long struggled and are the focus of growing national concern.

Madison School Superintendent Dan Nerad on Poverty and Enrollment: “For every one student that comes into the MMSD, three leave it”

Kristin Czubkowski, via Jackie Woodruff:

All of the speakers were good, but I will admit I really enjoyed listening to Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dan Nerad talk on the issue of poverty in our schools.

“Oftentimes, the statement is used as follows: Our children are our future. In reality, we are theirs.”

Nerad made one more point I found interesting, which was his explanation for why for every one student that comes into the MMSD, two to three students leave it. While MMSD has been well-recognized for having great schools and students, many of the schools have high concentrations of poverty (17 of 32 elementary schools have more than 50 percent of students on free or reduced lunch programs), which Nerad said can lead to perception issues about how MMSD uses its resources.

“From my perspective, it’s a huge issue that we must face as a community — for every one child coming in, two to three come out right now. I worry that a lot of it is based on this increasing poverty density that we have in our school district … Oftentimes that’s based on a perception of quality, and it’s based on a perception based on that oftentimes that we have more kids in need, that we have more kids with more resource needs, and oftentimes people feel that their own children’s needs may not be met in that equation.”

Recent open enrollment data.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Debate Friday 3/21/2009


A debate between the two candidates for Wisconsin state superintendent will be broadcast statewide Friday night on public television and radio.
Tony Evers and Rose Fernandez are running to be the next superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction. The election for the nonpartisan position is April 7.
Evers currently serves as the deputy superintendent. Fernandez is a leading advocate of virtual schools.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent: It looks like an interesting race

Despite being outspent $96,129 to $10,500 (WisPolitics) by Tony Evers, Rose Fernandez obtained 31% of yesterday’s vote. Tony Evers received 35%. Here’s a roundup of the election and candidates:

  • WisPolitics
  • Amy Hetzner:

    On Tuesday, he finished just ahead of Rose Fernandez, a former pediatric trauma nurse and parent advocate, in a five-person field.
    Although she finished the night in second place, Fernandez, 51, characterized her performance as “a victory for real people over the special interests.”
    In addition to being first to declare his candidacy, Evers also captured endorsements – and contributions – from the Wisconsin Education Association Council as well as other labor and education-based groups. WEAC PAC, the political arm of the state’s largest teachers union, contributed $8,625 to Evers’ campaign, in addition to spending nearly $180,000 on media buys for the candidate, according to campaign filings earlier this month.
    By contrast, the Fernandez campaign spent $20,000. She said that her message of calling for merit pay for teachers and choices for parents had resonated with voters.
    “Tonight, we have all the momentum,” she said. “This is going to be a real choice. It’s going to be a choice between special interests and the status quo, the bureaucracy that is entrenched at the Department of Public Instruction, vs. a focus on the results we are looking for in our investment in education, a push for higher standards instead of higher taxes.”
    Evers, 57, has distanced himself somewhat from the current schools superintendent, Elizabeth Burmaster, saying it’s time to be more aggressive about reforming Milwaukee Public Schools and calling for an increase in the state’s graduation rate.
    On Tuesday, he denied Fernandez’s charge of favoring special interests

  • Google News
  • John Nichols on the history of the DPI Superintendent.

2009 Wisconsin Department of Instruction (DPI) Superintendent Candidates: Primary Election Tuesday 2/17/2009

Five candidates are on the statewide primary ballot this Tuesday, February 17, 2009. One of them will replace outgoing Superintendent Libby Burmaster. The candidates are

Wisconsin voter information, including polling locations can be found here. Much more on the Wisconsin DPI here. Wisconsin’s curricular standards have been criticized for their lack of rigor.

2009 Wisconsin Superintendent of the Year

Gena Kittner:

If there was any doubt that Jon Bales would be a good fit for the DeForest School District, it was quickly erased when he arrived here nearly a decade ago.
The School Board had set up a program to solicit input from residents about the future direction of the district. Another superintendent might have been more eager to put his own stamp on the district. But Bales embraced the project, which led to a renewed commitment to technology, quality facilities and individualized learning programs.
“When we did that, it just really made a connection between the district and the community,” said Bales, 56. “For me that was one of the most gratifying things we’ve done. All that community input is like gold.”
In February, the district plans to hold a similar program, this time looking to the year 2025.
Bales’ role in implementing those goals is among the reasons he has been named Wisconsin’s 2009 Superintendent of the Year by the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators.

Menomonee Falls Superintendent Dr. Keith Marty to Facilitate Madison’s “Strategic Planning Process”

A recent Madison School Board meeting discussed the planned “Strategic Review” 10MB mp3 audio. Superintendent Dan Nerad mentioned that he planned to retain Menomonee Falls Superintendent Dr. Keith Marty to facilitate the process. Links:

Board members asked the Superintendent about committee staffing (public & staff names), timing and funding.

Milwaukee Schools Change Teaching, Reading & Writing Strategies; Search for New Teaching & Learning Director

Alan Borsuk:

Major changes in how Milwaukee Public Schools teaches reading and writing are coming soon, according to school Superintendent William Andrekopoulos.
He said a team of outside experts has been evaluating MPS literacy efforts and he expects to get its report in December. He said he has been given indications of what the experts will recommend.
“I think you will see this report turning things upside down, changing some past practices, and making some bold changes that we hope will improve the performance of our kids,” he said earlier this week.
He said the state Department of Public Instruction had put together the expert team and was paying for the study as part of plans aimed at bringing MPS into compliance with goals set by the federal No Child Left Behind law.
“We’re going to take it to heart, what’s in that report,” he said. “The status quo is unacceptable. . . . We realize if we just continue to do the same thing, we’re going to get the same results.”
He did not provide details of what is expected to be in the report.

A “Comprehensive, Research Based Approach to Literacy”

Reading Review: Step By Step Learning via a kind reader’s email:

A prominent RTI educational organization recognized for achieving positive sustainable results in schools, published the latest volume of its Reading Review this week.
This newspaper is designed for Directors of Curriculum, Teachers, Principals, and Superintendents, sharing the stories of schools’ successes, LETRS Coaching, RTI Implementation and other rewarding articles. Read the Reading Review today to discover what success is actually occurring in today’s classrooms.

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s Remarks at a Dane County Public Affairs Council Event

Watch the 70 minute presentation and discussion or listen to this 29MB mp3 file

I took a few notes (with apologies for their brevity):

Dan Nerad:

Revisit strategic plan in January with local stakeholders. Preferred to lead with strategic plan but budget came first.
Hopes (MMSD) literacy programs are maintained.
He wants to listen to the community.
The District’s mission is teaching and learning.
The District has several strengths and some notable weaknesses, including achievement gaps.
Schools have a broader mission than workforce development, including helping students be good people.
Achievement gap is a significant issue. There is a compelling need to face an issue that affects Madison’s viability. These are not quick fix kind of issues. We need to talk more openly about this.
If I speak openly, I hope that people will be supportive of public education.
He wishes to reframe conversation around improvements for all students.
Five areas of discussion:

  1. 4k community conversation
  2. SLC grant (More here). Use the grant to begin a conversation about high schools. The structure has been in place for over 100 years. Discussed kids who are lost in high school.
  3. Curriculum can be more workforce based. Green bay has 4 high schools aligned with careers (for example: Health care).
  4. Revisit school safety
  5. Curriculum
    – safety plan and response system
    – schools should be the safest place in the community
    – technology is not the complete answer
    math task force; Madison high school students take fewer credits than other Wisconsin urban districts
    – reaffirms notable math achievement gap

  6. Fine Arts task force report: Fine arts help kids do better academically,

Erik Kass, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services:

Discussed budget gaps.
Plans to review financial processes.
He previously worked as a financial analyst.
Goal is to provide accurate, honest and understandable information.

Jonathan Barry posed a useful question (46 minutes) on how the current MTI agreement prohibits participation in alternative programs, such as Operation Fresh Start (“nobody shall educate that is not a member of Madison Teachers”). Barry mentioned that a recent United Way study referenced 4,000 local disconnected youth (under 21). This topic is relevant in a number of areas, including online learning and credit for non-MMSD courses. This has also been an issue in the local lack of a 4K program.

An Email to Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad on Credit for non MMSD Courses

Dear Superintendent Nerad:
I was rather surprised to learn today from the Wisconsin State Journal that:
“The district and the union also have quarreled over the role of MTI members in online learning for seven years. Under the new agreement, ANY (my emphasis) instruction of district students will be supervised by Madison teachers. The deal doesn’t change existing practice but confirms that that practice will continue.”
You are quite new to the MMSD. I am EXTREMELY disappointed that you would “cave in” to MTI regarding a long-standing quarrel it has had with the MMSD without first taking the time to get input from ALL affected parties, i.e., students and their parents as well as teachers who might not agree with Matthews on this issue. Does this agreement deal only with online learning or ALL non-MMSD courses (e.g., correspondence ones done by mail; UW and MATC courses not taken via the YOP)? Given we have been waiting 7 years to resolve this issue, there was clearly no urgent need for you to do so this rapidly and so soon after coming on board. The reality is that it is an outright LIE that the deal you just struck with MTI is not a change from the practice that existed 7 years ago when MTI first demanded a change in unofficial policy. I have copies of student transcripts that can unequivocally PROVE that some MMSD students used to be able to receive high school credit for courses they took elsewhere even when the MMSD offered a comparable course. These courses include high school biology and history courses taken via UW-Extension, high school chemistry taken via Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development, and mathematics, computer science, and history courses taken at UW-Madison outside of the YOP. One of these transcripts shows credit for a course taken as recently as fall, 2005; without this particular 1/2 course credit, this student would have been lacking a course in modern US history, a requirement for a high school diploma from the State of Wisconsin.
The MMSD BOE was well aware that they had never written and approved a clear policy regarding this matter, leaving each school in the district deciding for themselves whether or not to approve for credit non-MMSD courses. They were well aware that Madison West HAD been giving many students credit in the past for non-MMSD courses. The fact is that the BOE voted in January, 2007 to “freeze” policy at whatever each school had been doing until such time as they approved an official policy. Rainwater then chose to ignore this official vote of the BOE, telling the guidance departments to stop giving students credit for such courses regardless of whether they had in the past. The fact is that the BOE was in the process of working to create a uniform policy regarding non-MMSD courses last spring. As an employee of the BOE, you should not have signed an agreement with MTI until AFTER the BOE had determined official MMSD policy on this topic. By doing so, you pre-empted the process.
There exist dozens of students per year in the MMSD whose academic needs are not adequately met to the courses currently offered by MTI teachers, including through the District’s online offerings. These include students with a wide variety of disabilities, medical problems, and other types of special needs as well as academically gifted ones. By taking appropriate online and correspondence courses and non-MMSD courses they can physically access within Madison, these students can work at their own pace or in their own way or at an accessible location that enables them to succeed. “Success for all” must include these students as well. Your deal with MTI will result in dozens of students per year dropping out of school, failing to graduate, or transferring to other schools or school districts that are more willing to better meet their “special” individual needs.
Your rush to resolve this issue sends a VERY bad message to many families in the MMSD. We were hoping you might be different from Rainwater. Unfortunately, it says to them that you don’t really care what they think. It says to them that the demands of Matthews take primarily over the needs of their children. Does the MMSD exist for Matthews or for the children of this District? As you yourself said, the MMSD is at a “tipping point”, with there currently being almost 50% “free and reduced lunch” students. Families were waiting and hoping that you might be different. As they learn that you are not based upon your actions, the exodus of middle class families from the MMSD’s public schools will only accelerate. It will be on your watch as superintendent that the MMSD irreversibly turns into yet another troubled inner city school district. I urge you to take the time to learn more about the MMSD, including getting input from all interested parties, before you act in the future.
VERY disappointingly yours,
Janet Mertz
parent of 2 Madison West graduates
Tamira Madsen has more:

“Tuesday’s agreement also will implement a measure that requires a licensed teacher from the bargaining unit supervise virtual/online classes within the district. The district and union have bickered on-and-off for nearly seven years over the virtual/online education issue. Matthews said the district was violating the collective bargaining contract with development of its virtual school learning program that offered online courses taught by teachers who are not members of MTI.
In the agreement announced Tuesday, there were no program changes made to the current virtual/online curriculum, but requirements outlined in the agreement assure that classes are supervised by district teachers.
During the 2007-08 school year, there were 10 district students and 40 students from across the state who took MMSD online courses.
Though Nerad has been on the job for less than three months, Matthews said he is pleased with his initial dealings and working relationship with the new superintendent.
“This is that foundation we need,” Matthews said. “There was a lot of trust level that was built up here and a lot of learning of each other’s personalities, style and philosophy. All those things are important.
“It’s going to be good for the entire school district if we’re able to do this kind of thing, and we’re already talking about what’s next.”

Miami-Dade Superintendent’s Biggest Challenge

Kathleen McGrory:

As the new Miami-Dade schools superintendent, Alberto Carvalho will face a multitude of challenges — among them, boosting morale among teachers and navigating a financial crisis.
But none will be as tricky — or as paramount to his success — as working with the sharply fractured School Board.
”There’s a divided board that isn’t in harmony,” said former schools chief Merrett Stierheim. “That’s the mountain he’s got to climb. And it’s a very steep mountain.”
While board members were hesitant at first to appoint a permanent replacement for Rudy Crew last week, Carvalho, with a competing offer from Pinellas County in hand, told them he wouldn’t accept a temporary position.
He was offered the permanent top job with a 5-3 vote.

Madison’s superintendent seeking balance, gaining fans

Andy Hall:

One of the biggest differences between Nerad and Rainwater, according to School Board members, is that Nerad provides the board with more information about what’s happening in the district. Silveira said Nerad’s weekly memos help board members feel engaged, and she’s hopeful that after the current financial questions are settled, the board can turn its focus to improving student achievement.
Mathiak said she was thrilled last week after hearing Nerad’s plan. “I think there is a honeymoon period and I think we’re still in it.”
Winston said after watching Nerad at work, “I’m convinced we made the right choice. I think he’s here for the long haul, too.”

Notes and links on Dan Nerad, the planned November, 2008 referendum and Active Citizens for Education Memo: Taxpayers should NOT be asked to give the Madison School Board a blank check!.

Jackson Public Schools trim superintendent list to 5

Nicole Spinuzzi:

Parents have said they want to be more involved with the selection process. About 25 JPS parents and Jackson residents rallied on South State Street in front of the district’s administration buildings Friday, urging the board to slow down the selection process and allow for more community involvement.
In an attempt to get the public more involved, the board asked community members to submit suggested questions for the board to ask applicants. Stamps said at least 20 community members responded.

Jackson supports about 31,000 students and the article notes that “20 community members responded”. I recall that the Madison Superintendent Search consultants mentioned that the approximately 400 community responses (in a district with 24,268 students) was quite good. Certainly, apathy reigns.

An Interview with San Diego Superintendent Terry Grier: On New Endeavors

Michael F. Shaughnessy:

1) Terry, you have just taken over as Superintendent of San Diego Public School. How did this come about?
Late last year, I was conducted by the search firm conducing the San Diego Unified School District’s Superintendent search to determine my interest.I had served as Superintendent of the 71,000 student Guilford County School District, Greensboro, NC, for the past eight years.I was in ‘good standing’ with the GCS school board, enjoyed my job, and had many friends in the Guilford County community.After reviewing the San Diego job description and researching the district’s history, challenges, and opportunities, I thought my experiences and background would be a good match.I flew to San Diego and met with the board of education and was impressed with their passion for educating all children to much higher levels.Following an initial interview, the process gained speed. My wife Nancy and I were invited back to a second interview the following week.Two days later, we were notified that SDUSD board members wanted to visit Guilford County the following weekend.Following their visit, we began contract negotiations.

Much more on Terry Grier here.

New Madison School Superintendent To Collect Retirement Pay

Kelly McBride:

Outgoing Green Bay Superintendent Daniel Nerad will receive more than $150,000 in retirement pay during the next five years, even as he starts his new job as head of the Madison School District.
The money is part of the district’s emeritus program, a benefit formula that provides money — but not insurance — for certain departing administrators.
“It’s in the (administrator) benefit package,” said John Wilson, the district’s assistant superintendent for human resources, “and it is based upon your age and years of service with the district.”
Administrators must be at least 55 years old, and their age plus years of service must equal at least 70, to qualify for the benefit. Nerad, 56, has been with the district in various capacities for 33 years, including the last seven as superintendent.


Outgoing Green Bay Superintendent Daniel Nerad will receive more than $150,000 in retirement pay even as he starts another job that pays nearly $200,000 per year.
Nerad will become the superintendent of the Madison School District starting Tuesday.
Green Bay district spokesman John Wilson said the retirement pay is part of the district’s benefit package for certain administrators.

Audio, Video and Links on Dan Nerad.

Dan Nerad Assumes the Madison Superintendent Position July 1, 2008

Tamira Madsen:

Hailed as a hard worker by district peers and teachers, in person, Nerad is a quiet and astute listener who weighs opinions, questions and ideas in a thoughtful manner.
It’s the quiet that marks the greatest contrast with outgoing Superintendent Art Rainwater, a former football coach with a commanding physical presence. Rainwater’s assertive, booming voice resonates in the Doyle Administration Building’s auditorium with or without a microphone.
Asked what the biggest difference is between Rainwater and Nerad, School Board President Arlene Silveira said it “will be Dan being out in the community and being more communicative. I think he will be more available and more accessible to the community as a whole. … I think people should feel very comfortable and confident that stepping in, he will be able to start making decisions and leading us from day one. I think that’s a big deal and very positive for us.”

Notes, Links, Audio and Video of Dan Nerad. Nerad’s public appearance.

Green Bay Chooses Greg Maass As Their New Superintendent

Kelly McBride:

District officials announced the decision Sunday afternoon after a marathon 7-hour closed session board meeting Saturday.
Maass, the superintendent of the Fond du Lac School District, will assume the district’s top post later this summer pending a School Board site visit, background check and successful contract negotiations.
He’s set to replace Superintendent Daniel Nerad, who will begin his tenure as the head of the Madison School District July 1.