MMSD Equity Policy – Board Member’s Comments and Community Member’s Response to Those Comments

The following exchange of e-mails is between Lawrie Kobza and Johnny Winston Jr., regarding the District’s proposed elimination of the equity policy.
As I read the two authors’ comments, I become more convinced that board policy changes ought to be discussed first at a Board committee meeting prior to a final vote. The substance of the changes merit public discussion and comment. The District Administration’s Questions and Answers sheet on this topic would have been a good place for the School Board to begin their discussions.

Subject: Equity – Response to Johnny Winston, Jr.
Prepared by Lawrie Kobza

The District is saying that the Board’s Equity Resource Policy
(Board Policy 9001) has been replaced for all practical purposes by the equity resource formula. There is an important difference, however, between the Equity Policy and the equity resource formula. The Equity Policy is codified as an official Board policy – and therefore the Board should require that the District follow the policy. The equity resource formula, however, does not appear anywhere in Board policy, and therefore, its use appears to be discretionary by the District.
While supplemental allocations have been provided historically, they
are discretionary in nature and could be eliminated. (emphasis
In the email from Board Member Johnny Winston, Jr., he says that the
change should not be of concern, and that “the essence of the
proposed change is for resources to be distributed based on MATHEMATICAL FORMULAS rather than POLITICS. During these times of fiscal constraints and crisis, it is more important than ever that this occurs.”
This statement gives little comfort, however, because while the
supplemental resources are allocated between schools based upon a
mathematical formula, the actual number of supplemental allocations
provided to address equity issues is totally discretionary with the
District, and we have seen that these supplemental allocations have
been disproportionately cut over the last several years.
In fact, the District’s consultant, Virchow Krause, stated in its
report dated March 11, 2002, at page 146, that although supplemental
allocations (which result from the equity resource formula) have
been provided historically, they are discretionary in nature and could be eliminated.
More specifically, the Virchow Krause report said the following:
“Supplemental allocations currently exist at varying levels for
elementary, middle and high schools. The number of allocations for
each individual school building is created through formulas based mainly on Educational Need Index (ENI). ENI attributes include EEN/ESL attributes as well as free & reduced, parent education and home status factors.
This allocation methods results in a building with a high index
typically allocated more supplemental positions, while other buildings receive fewer supplemental allocations as a result of low ENI indexes. The supplemental FTE allocations are currently utilized differently by
each building with the most common uses as additional psychologists,
social workers, guidance or clerical staff.
An allocation chart provided by the Administration a year or two ago
shows allocations from 1998/99 to 2003/04. A copy of that document
is attached to this email. That document shows that from 1998/99 to
2002/03, supplemental allocations were cut 58.9% at elementary
schools, while total allocations at elementary schools were cut 6.1%.
Supplemental allocations were cut 27.5% at middle schools, while
total allocations at middle schools were cut 5.5%. And, supplemental allocations were cut 100% at high schools, while total allocations
in the high schools increased 4.6%. So, for high schools, the
mathematical formula applied to zero allocations is zero.
The number of allocations provided by the District to address equity
issues is an important issue. This has been cut disproportionately
over the last several years, and I expect we will see it cut even more at the middle schools for next year. The impact is that our neediest
students take the biggest cut.
Johnny Winston, Jr., letter to Ms. Kozba and I presume other community members who wrote him about the equity policy issue.
> Dear members of the community:
> A few days ago an e-mail was distributed to the various list serves
> regarding a policy change for the MMSD (Equity Policy – Board Policy
> 9001).
> The policy that was proposed to be deleted at last Monday’s school
> board meeting was outdated in that it has been replaced by the equity resource formula which is now being used to ensure the equitable distribution
> of staff to ALL schools. The formula takes into consideration such
things as the number of students of poverty, the number of English language learners, the number of special education students, mobility etc. at each school to determine the staffing allocations for that particular school.
> This change in policy should not be construed that the district is
not committed to equity for all students. Rather, the essence of the
> proposed change is for resources to be distributed based on MATHMATICAL FORMULAS rather than POLITICS. During these times of fiscal constraints and crisis, it is more important than ever that this occurs.
> Superintendent Art Rainwater and his staff have produced a “Question
> & Answer” paper regarding the change in the Equity policy. I have a
> copy and would be happy to send it to you.
> Thank you for those of you who have expressed your concerns in
writing or just had questions regarding this policy. Your advocacy efforts assist in helping the MMSD provide a quality education for all students.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or concerns about this issue and any other regarding the Madison Metropolitan School District.
> Johnny Winston, Jr.
> Madison School Board Member
> 441-0224