Carol Carstensen’s Email Message to Parent Groups

Carol Carstensen:

Parent Group Presidents:
N.B. The Board’s discussion regarding animals in the classroom has been postponed until January.
Why does the Madison district spend more than the state average per pupil? One part of the answer is that our student enrollment differs significantly from the state average in areas which require more services (and therefore greater costs):

  • Poverty Madison’s rate is 30% greater than the state’s average
  • English Language Learners (ELL): our percentage is more than 300% greater than the state’s
    Special Education the district has a higher percentage (16.8% vs. 12.6%) of students with special education needs – and a significantly higher percentage of high needs students. Of 389 students in the state identified with costs over $30,000 Madison has 109 (nearly 30%).

Board meetings on Monday, November 14:
Long Range Planning (chair Bill Keys) heard an update on the East and Memorial/West Task Forces. There will be forums at several middle schools the week of Nov. 28 to get comments from parents and the community. Check the Task Force page on the district’s website ( to get dates, time and location. The Committee also approved a proposal to hire an architectural firm to work on a long range facility plan for both East and West High School. The maintenance referendum included major projects for these schools this plan will include both planned projects and improvements that will depend on private fundraising.
The Board approved the administration’s recommendation to proceed with a new Student Information System. This will be funded entirely out of reductions in staffing and other costs. Once in place, parents will be able to use the Internet to view their child’s attendance, test performance and progress reports.
Performance & Achievement (chair Shwaw Vang) heard a report from Pam Nash, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools, about the Middle Grades Design Team. The team is looking at ways to ensure that middle schools in the district offer more consistent experiences to all students and also that students are adequately prepared to take challenging courses in high school. There has been one meeting with middle school parents and another is planned to get reactions to proposed changes. There will also be a parent survey on the website to get further information from parents.
Human Resources (chair Juan Lopez) continued the discussion on setting goals for the Superintendent for this year. When these are finalized and adopted by the Board I will summarize them. The committee had a report on the increased number of employees of color. This has been a priority of the Board; the report showed that the district has more than doubled the percent of employees of color since 1987 (from 5.8% to 12. 6%).
Next week’s schedule meetings will be at WRIGHT MIDDLE SCHOOL [map]
5:00 Special Board Meeting
The first part is an executive session hearing from the district’s investigator into the taser incident last winter.
The open part of the meeting will be a discussion about the areas of conflict between the school district policy relating to interrogation and arrest of a student and the Madison Police Department procedures.
7:00 Human Resources (Juan Lopez, chair) report on the status of the district’s Workmen’s Compensation record and continued discussion on the 2005-06 Superintendent Goals and Evaluation process
Looking ahead: We are experimenting with televising committee and special Board meetings starting with the meetings on Nov. 28th. The main focus of the meeting will be an intensive review of the budget and staffing of 2 departments: Business Services and Human Resources.
Carol Carstensen, President
Madison School Board
“Until lions have their own historians, the hunters will always be glorified.” – African Proverb